Lake season is upon is, which means boats are going from lake to lake and county staff have resumed their positions guarding public accesses and trying to prevent further spread of aquatic invasive species.
In a combined effort to bring together the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, Becker, Hubbard, and Otter Tail Coalition of Lake Associations, County AIS Coordinators and the Pelican River Watershed District met for an update at M State Detroit Lakes on Friday, June 8.
There were 122 in attendance, including Sen. Kent Eken, Twin Valley, and Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston who were invited to listen to individuals from various walks of life about the need to continue funding the effort to prevent invasive species.
MAISRC opened in 2012. According to MAISCR Director, Dr. Nicholas Phelps, "The state of Minnesota took a leadership role in the fight against AIS and created an interdisciplinary, innovative and forward-thinking Center to develop much-needed science to solve our AIS problems."
AIS, short for aquatic invasive species, is a subject that remains elusive to some. And that's a problem.
"However, after only five years, I am proud to report that the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center has made significant progress towards our goals--solutions are within reach," Phelps said.
The non-native species are brought over from somewhere else via watercraft, boat lift, etc. They don't "fit in" the ecosystem that they're dropped in and they cause problems.
They pose a threat to Minnesota lakes and rivers, interrupting fish reproduction, preventing native plant growth, and clearing the water of nutrients.
About 150 of 11,842 Minnesota's lakes are currently affected by zebra mussels, including DL, but the harm they inflict could be worsened by the addition of another invasive species. That's where prevention comes in.
Early detection is critical, according to MAISRC extension educator Megan Weber. She was one of the five speakers at the event among other educators and biologists.
"All of our continued efforts are extremely important to Minnesota's climate of water," Weber said. "We need to encourage funding, continue to research, and keep sharing our stories with one another."
The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center works across the state to develop research-based solutions that can reduce the impacts of aquatic invasive species in Minnesota by preventing spread, controlling populations, and managing ecosystems; and to advance knowledge to inspire action by others.
They are offering two new programs that train a statewide network of citizen scientists to identify, report, and track aquatic invaders in Minnesota lakes and rivers.
MAISRC calls volunteers each summer to join these two programs called AIS Detectors and AIS Trackers. Learn more by going to www.maisrc.umn.edu/get-involved.
Other ways to help are to donate or to urge legislators to offer long term, stable funding to the cause.
Invasive species affecting Minnesota include zebra mussels, invasive carp, fish pathogens, starry stonewort, eurasian flowering rush, curly-leaf pondweed, faucet snails, rusty crayfish, hydrilla, silver asian carp, viral hemorrhagic septicemia, spiny water fleas, and more.
Boaters are encouraged to clean, drain, and dry their boat when going from lake to lake and to spread awareness of prevention.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, seven percent of Minnesota lakes are on the infested waters list.
Anyone who discovers a suspicious species, or a known invasive species in a lake should take care to collect a sample and report their finding to the DNR office.
Varying cleaning and inspection guidelines apply to differing watercrafts and lake gear. Visit www.protectyourwaters.net to find out how you can properly clean jet skis, fishing equipment, scuba gear, etc.