AIS Boat Cleaning Stations to Open Near Lake Vermilion

TOWER and COOK—Lake Vermilion will be better protected from aquatic invasive species (AIS) starting this weekend thanks to a partnership among two local businesses and two organizations providing AIS inspection services at the lake.

The Country Store in Cook and the Y Store near Tower will each host a new AIS boat cleaning station staffed by trained AIS inspectors. The Y Store is owned by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa.

“Aquatic invasive species are a significant threat to our lake,” said Tom Musech, who owns the Country Store. “We simply must do everything possible to prevent new infestations. I’m very pleased the Country Store can help.”

Y Store Manager Paula Bozicevich agreed.

“Lake Vermilion draws thousands of fishermen and recreational boaters to our area,” said Bozicevich. “Our visitors and our local community must work together to prevent new AIS problems.”

North St Louis SWCD inspection teams will staff the cleaning stations in the convenience store parking lots.

“These are the same AIS inspectors you began to see at public accesses on Fishing Opener,” said Phil Norvitch, inspection supervisor with the SWCD. “Inspectors with specialized training will use a mobile cleaning system with a high-temperature pressure washer to remove attached vegetation and prohibited AIS from boats and trailers headed to and from Vermilion’s public and resort boat launches.

The boat cleaning stations will be initially staffed from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays. Throughout the summer, an up-to-date schedule can be found here.

“I invite all boaters to stop by either location this weekend with their watercraft for a free courtesy cleaning,” said Bozicevich. As an added incentive, boat owners getting their watercraft inspected will be offered a free ice cream cone at the Y Store or a cup of premium coffee at either the Country Store or Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop.

Jeff Lovgren, the AIS program leader for the Sportsmen’s Club, said Lake Vermilion’s boat cleaning stations are a key component in the AIS prevention program that begins miles from Lake Vermilion.

“Boaters leaving their previous lake need to drain all water and carefully inspect all their boating equipment for vegetation and prohibited AIS,” said Lovgren. “Then, as they near Vermilion, we suggest they stop for a free inspection and cleaning at the Country Store or the Y Store.” Lovgren added that in most cases the process will take only 10 minutes.

When they visit the Y Store or Country Store cleaning station, Norvitch said their boat will be checked and sealed as ‘CLEAN.” While the seal does not eliminate the need for a launch-site inspection, it is likely to streamline the process when a launch is busy, getting you on the water a bit quicker after arrival.

“If a boater were to go directly to a launch site, an AIS problem might be found that could not easily be corrected without a time-consuming trip back to a boat cleaning station,” explained Norvitch.

Like others involved in the partnership, Bois Forte Tribal Government Executive Director Corey Strong fully supports the attempts to keep AIS from spreading in Lake Vermilion.

“We want to work hand in hand to prevent the spread of AIS,” said Strong. “This problem is on our radar—not just Lake Vermilion, but Nett Lake and all lakes in our region. Anything that we can do is helpful from our stand point—and we look forward to working with all parties on this serious issue.”

The Lake Vermilion boat inspection and cleaning activities are funded by a grant from St Louis County’s AIS Prevention Program.

Correction: The original text has been corrected to make it clear that a stop at a Boat Cleaning Station does not eliminate the need for a subsequent inspection upon arrival at a public launch. However, it is likely to streamline the process when the launch is busy, getting you on the water a bit quicker after arrival.

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