St. Louis County Board approves funds to combat Aquatic Invasive Species

FEBRUARY 15, 2017 — St. Louis County Commissioners have authorized the distribution of $853,449 of state funds for projects that will prevent the introduction and limit the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in lakes and rivers in St. Louis County. Ten projects were selected, following review by the County’s Planning and Community Development Department, based on what fit best with the County’s Aquatic Invasive Species plan. Some of the projects are new, while others are a continuation of work done in previous years.

Among the ten projects approved were the following:
• $96,396 to the Vermilion Lake Association (formerly Sportsmen’s Club of Lake Vermilion) for watercraft inspections and cleaning, public awareness and education efforts and other work.
• $95,387 to the Natural Resources Research Institute for a research project on the spiny water flea, which will be done in partnership with several lake associations and the Bois Forte Band.
• $34,800 to the Bois Forte Band to test and monitor for the spiny water flea.

Also included in this funding is $50,000 to be held in a County reserve fund for seasonal urgent needs.

“We are pleased St. Louis County will be using a portion of its Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Aid to support our AIS efforts on Lake Vermilion,” said Terry Grosshauser, president of the 2,400-member lake association. “Lake Vermilion is a northern Minnesota treasure, attracting fishermen and recreational boaters from all over the Midwest.”

Jeff Lovgren, Lake Vermilion AIS program leader, estimates that 16,000 boats launch at Vermilion each year. “With serious vegetation threats like starry stonewort expanding rapidly in Minnesota lakes last year, we must do all we can to protect Lake Vermilion and its business community,” said Mr. Lovgren.

The Lake Vermilion AIS Prevention Plan includes over twenty projects in four major areas: Watercraft inspection and cleaning, public education, early detection and population management and regional partnership development. “Strong partnerships make this difficult and complex task possible,” continued Mr. Lovgren.

Each year, through the AIS Prevention Aid Program, the state legislature gives funding to counties to allocate to organizations that will participate in AIS research, control, prevention and education activities. How much funding comes from the state is based on a formula that factors each county’s share of watercraft trailer launches and watercraft trailer parking spaces. Of Minnesota’s 87 counties, St. Louis County has the second highest number of watercraft trailer launches (166) and the highest number of watercraft trailer parking spaces (1,173).