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County dedicates $10K to fight against invasive species in local lakes

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Lakes Association will use a $10,000 county grant to increase public awareness about preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, like Eurasian water milfoil, curly-leaf pondweed and zebra mussels.

Some of the funds may be used to conduct inspections and to help train county deputies on how to identify invasive species and to enforce current laws when boaters are going from lake to lake. A key goal is to educate lake users on the dangers of spreading invasive species and how it can be prevented.

The association's Aq-uatic Invasive Species Advisory Committee had initially sought $17,500 from the county's water planning task force to begin the campaign.

But believing that the organization had access to $20,000 in other funds, they decreased the request to $7,625, said Kandiyohi County Commissioner Harlan Ma-dsen.

Based on that information, the task force approved the $7,625 request.

The lake association later learned they had only a few hundred dollars in the bank.

Last week the County Board of Commissioners, which has the final say on how the task force funds are spent, agreed to increase the allocation to $10,000.

Commissioner Dennis Peterson, who thought the grant should be even larger, said this is the "most important" money the water planning task force will spend.

"They need the money and they need it now," said Peterson of the lake association.

Commissioner Richard Larson questioned using the money for public speakers and other educational efforts. He said money needs to be dedicated to research, especially to fight troublesome species like zebra mussels.

The committee is hosting a speaker Saturday who will address the threat of a zebra mussel infestation. Dick Sternberg, a freshwater biologist and nationally recognized angler and outdoors author, will speak at 1 p.m. at the Dethlefs Center in Spicer.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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