Crooked Lake Township in southern Cass County is engaged in a determined local effort to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).
Using DNR-trained AIS inspectors to work with water users, as well as local “lake ambassadors” to help educate the general public, the area’s effort is part of a DNR program to curtail the future infestation of more waters of Minnesota.
Paid for by a combination of DNR, township and lake associations funding, regular contact is made with folks at the boat ramps.
The AIS inspection effort seeks to stop the Minnesota spread of non-native species, such as zebra mussel veligers, spiny water fleas, Viral Hemorrhaging Septicemia (VHS) and others that can easily travel in any water carried on a boat.
Picked up from an infested waters, these devastating organisms will be invisible during transport. Even more scary is that they are able to survive for days in wet conditions on the boat, so special care is essential.
Every water-user, boat owner and waterfront property owner is asked to follow systematic inspection techniques for their boats, as well as be sure to avoid moving any equipment into any waters of Minnesota without following the stated precautions.
In recent years, boat lifts and/or docks from infested waters were moved directly into clean waters (rather than sit on shore over the winter or at least for two weeks). Subsequently, those waters became infested with zebra mussels.
When dealing with any such equipment move between waters, the use of a DNR-certified water services provider should be arranged. These folks have completed training on the processes and procedures for protecting against the unwanted spread of lake-damaging plants and animals.
Public education and awareness are keys to stopping the spread of AIS. Everyone is asked to be a guardian for the lake area’s future.
“Virtually all contacts at the ramps have been positive and appreciative, but there has been that occasional boater who is upset at the process and does not see the AIS threat affecting them and/or their enjoyment,” said Bill Schaefer, an AIS inspector in Crooked Lake Township. “I am here because I believe we need to protect these waters from infestation, rather than allow them to be compromised for our children and their children. With the Fourth of July coming, this is even more crucial.”