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2 cameras going up at Otter Tail Lake Officials hoping to avoid spread of AIS

Published 11:21am Monday, June 2, 2014

An idea that came out of meetings of the Aquatic Invasive Species task force last fall should be implemented sometime this month.

The Otter Tail Lake Association Foundation has purchased two cameras to be installed at public accesses on Otter Tail Lake, according to foundation and AIS task force member Bernie Steeves. The group hopes to have the cameras in place by the middle of this month, Steeves said.

 

“These things are 24 hours a day,” Steeves said of the cameras. “They have been used in a lot of other areas and been successful.”

The idea came about when the task force began discussing ways to stop the spread of AIS from different lakes. Because the number of Otter Tail County employees who monitor the lakes is limited, task force members thought cameras would be a good substitute.

“The thought process here is that this may be a way to, for lack of a better word, replace inspectors,” County Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar said.

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners gave its approval to the project, but declined to fund the purchase of the cameras. The Lake Association Foundation gathered the money for the two cameras, one of which will be stationary and located at the access near Zorbaz’s restaurant, while the other will be portable and rotate between the other two accesses on the lake.

This is a pilot program and as such, Steeves said organizers hope to use this year to sort out any kinks. The cameras will be in place through the end of September.

Keeping area lakes clear of AIS has been a priority for many lake associations in recent years.

“People don’t do things intentionally,” Steeves said. “It’s just making people aware that you have to clean, drain and dry.”

Although they declined to provide funding, Steeves said, the county is on board with monitoring the cameras. Watercraft inspectors will have the ability to check the camera feeds while they are on other lakes.

The cameras will be wireless and will feed up-to-the-minute information to watercraft inspectors. If all goes well this year, Steeves would like to see the cameras become a permanent fixture at the Otter Tail Lake accesses.

“I really think it’s the wave of the future,” he said.

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