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Protecting our lakes: County Board endorses plan to prevent spread of zebra mussels

For the last several years, Kandiyohi County officials and area lake associations have been struggling to come up with a local plan to battle invasive species while seeking a comprehensive statewide process and plan from the Legislature. A plan endorsed Tuesday by the country will enable county officials to take greater steps in protecting area lakes from the spread of zebra mussels likes those seen above.

 WILLMAR — A plan of action to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, especially zebra mussels, from getting into area lakes was endorsed Tuesday by the Kandiyohi County Commissioners.

 That plan includes funds to hire people to inspect “water-related equipment,” providing education and outreach about invasive species and information and access to decontamination facilities for equipment suspected to contain any type of aquatic invasive species.

 The county has budgeted $15,000, which includes $12,000 to hire “level one” inspectors who will inspect equipment that’s voluntarily submitted. Those inspectors will have the authority to direct that equipment to undergo decontamination.


 Developed by the county’s aquatic invasive species task force, the 12-page document provides a basic work plan of “best management practices,” said Rick Reimer, Kandiyohi County Soil and Water Conservation District manager and chairman of the task force.


 A Willmar business, Twin Lake Services, currently offers decontamination services, said Reimer.


 Other funds will be used for education on web sites and to promote a May 1 educational event that’ll be held at the New London-Spicer High School cafeteria. That event starts at 6:30 p.m.


 Considering the county’s additional commitment to fund extra water patrol deputies this summer, the county is dedicating nearly $50,000 to combat invasive species.


 Details of the plan will likely evolve with the availability of future funding but the plan represents a cooperative effort by lake associations, the Department of Natural Resources and the county.


 The intent of the work of the task force was to have a “unified voice,” County Administrator Larry Kleindl said. “One county. One plan. All come together with a common voice.”


 He said it was important that the public is aware the county is “putting our stamp of approval” on the plan but said having a written plan isn’t the end of the process but the beginning.


 For the last several years the county and area lake associations have been struggling to come up with a local plan while at the same time pleading with the Legislature and state leaders to step up and create a comprehensive statewide process and plan.


 “It’s fallen on deaf ears,” County Board Chairman Harlan Madsen said.


 Since the state hasn’t taken action counties desperate to protect their lakes from the devastation of zebra mussels have taken on the fight themselves, Madsen said.


 The result, he said, will be 87 different county plans instead of one statewide effort. It’s a result he called “counter-productive.”


 Kleindl said the county’s plan may be criticized for not doing enough and for doing too much.


 “It’s a start, to get the information out there,” he said.


 Commissioner Doug Reese said he’s glad the different local entities are working together. He said there is a “sense of urgency” to do something and that going another summer without a program in place “scares me.” 

Carolyn Lange

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

(320) 894-9750