County Board approves distribution of funds to battle Aquatic Invasive Species

St. Louis County Commissioners have authorized the distribution of just over $420,000 of state funds to prevent the introduction and limit the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in lakes and rivers in St. Louis County. Five 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.

The County Board voted unanimously to fund the following:

  • $23,441 to the Sportsmen’s Club of Lake Vermilion, Inc. for zebra mussel habitat assessment through lake and river calcium sampling in Eagles Nest Township and East Two River.
  • $45,000 to the City of Babbitt for the construction of a new boat access at Birch Lake. The design will incorporate drainage diversion into storm sewers, and a cleaning area for boats, trailers and vehicles.
  • $102,500 to Wildlife Forever to increase public awareness through a marketing campaign targeting boaters, anglers, hunters and others who use St. Louis County waterbodies.
  • $10,000 to Canosia Township to provide an AIS education/inspection program at Pike Lake and Caribou Lake. The township will hire inspectors and provide oversight of the program. The intent of the program is to manage existing populations of AIS, and increase public awareness and participation in protection.
  • $189,857 to Burntside Lake Association to expand launch site inspections on public landings on Burntside Lake, provide boat decontamination facilities for boaters on Burntside Lake and other Ely area lakes, and improve public awareness of AIS to develop early AIS detection capabilities and share information with other lake associations.

Additionally, St. Louis County will use $50,000 to address unknown seasonal variations in the spread of AIS. This funding may be used for aquatic herbicide and pesticide treatments administered by contractors licensed by the DNR and in coordination with the local unit of government, lake association, or non-profit.

The funds are allocated to organizations that will participate in AIS research, control, prevention, and education activities. The work is part of the Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Aid Program created by the state legislature to provide funding to Minnesota counties to participate in AIS control and prevention activities.

Through the AIS Prevention Aid Program, counties are allocated funds 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). St. Louis County’s share of funding totaled $690,785 for 2016.

Aquatic invasive species disrupt the health of water bodies, and pose a myriad of threats to natural, cultural and recreational resources of the region. Key AIS species of concern in St. Louis County include zebra and quagga mussels, the New Zealand mudsnail, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), round and tubenose gobies, Eurasian ruffe, faucet snail, mystery snail, spiny water flea, Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife and rusty crayfish.

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