County board takes action to fight invasivesPublished 11:01am Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Otter Tail County Board Tuesday voted to join in the fight for more regulation and enforcement to stop the spread of invasive species in area lakes. The board also took a first step in forming a task force to develop specific ways to protect lakes in this area.
Speaking to the board on Tuesday were Jeff Stabnow, president of the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) and Tera Guetter, administrator of the Pelican River Watershed District that’s based in Detroit Lakes. Collaboration between Otter Tail County and Becker County is underway to fight invasives.
“We need to act swiftly, decisively and boldly,” said Guetter. “More aggressive procedures are needed in order to successfully fight invasive species.”
Stabnow, as head of Otter Tail County’s COLA, has for several months joined with fellow members to assist and promote boat inspections at public accesses on area lakes and enhance public education of the invasive species issue.
“We not only have zebra mussels in our area lakes, but more invasives are knocking on our doors,” said Guetter. “We need to be aware of and prepare to fight Quagga mussels, Spiny waterflea, Viral hemorrhagic and Asian carp.”
County boards in both Otter Tail and Becker counties know that a zebra mussel infestation would not only have an environmental impact, but also adversely affect the quality of life in this area and tourism as well. Those are among the reasons the Otter Tail County Board voted Tuesday to encourage the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) to add aquatic invasive species to the legislation platform and lobby the Minnesota legislature for more state regulation and enforcement.
The task force in Otter Tail County, after it is formed to fight invasives, will likely have representation from county government, COLA, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other entities.
“It’s great to see that Otter Tail County has agreed to form a task force,” said former COLA President Shawn Olson. “Our organization has suggested that the county take leadership in seeking grant applications, such as for DNR watercraft inspections.”
The DNR, with blasts of hot, high pressure water, hope to keep zebra mussels at bay on several Minnesota lakes, including Pelican Lake near Pelican Rapids. Earlier this year the agency unveiled its new decontamination units to remove the invasive species from boats.
State officials say it’s all part of a big push, funded by the legislature, to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.