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Kandiyohi Board considers zebra mussel report on Green Lake

WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Board discussed Tuesday the impact of having the waters of Green Lake classified as infested with zebra mussels.

The board heard an update on the presence of even one zebra mussel, an aquatic invasive species, in the county’s largest lake and prime tourist attraction.

County Administrator Larry Kleindl said the single adult zebra mussel found on a dock raised alarms for Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials. They searched and conducted water tests in the area in July and were unable to find other signs of adult mussels or their microscopic offspring, called veligers.

Still, the presence of one zebra mussel is enough for the DNR to place the infested designation on the lake.

The small, sharp-shelled zebra mussels attach themselves to items under water, such as docks, boat lifts and rocks. They can cause problems when they cluster around water intake pipes or other infrastructure.

The designation will increase boat inspections and public education efforts.

Kleindl said the designation is a precautionary approach, even though no other evidence was found.

“It wasn’t surprising to them,” he said, because the mussels can be difficult to find early on.

The DNR has decided to take a “precautionary approach,” he said.

“The idea is it’s better to put the resources in to make sure more inspections take place,” Kleindl said.

The general public can help, too, he said. “As you’re out and about on the shores and docks, be aware of what’s going on,” he said. Homeowners around the lake should closely inspect their docks and boat lifts when they remove them this fall, he added.

Green Lake will carry the infestation label for at least five years, Kleindl said.

Commissioner Roger Imdieke called the designation a “double-edged sword” for the county.

“I’m disappointed in the designation,” he said, “but it does give us the opportunity to have heightened awareness and increase inspections.”

The public should be educated about how to report a zebra mussel discovery, too, he said. It’s better to call the DNR and have an expert look at it in place than to remove it and bring it in, as the homeowner had done with the zebra mussel found in July.

“The chain of evidence has been compromised,” he said. “We need to know where they came from.”

Kleindl said boat owners should conduct a careful visual inspection of their equipment and use decontamination equipment at the lake’s public access ramps if they see anything suspicious.

An alternative is to leave their boat out of the water for about a week, he said.

Kleindl reminded commissioners that Games Lake was also designated for a Eurasian watermilfoil discovery.

“While the zebra mussel is devastating, there are other invasive species we need to look for,” he said. “We’re talking about all invasive species.”

Also on Tuesday, the board approved a new four-year appointment for Trisha Appeldorn, the county’s veteran services officer. Kleindl said he has seen Appeldorn grow in her job and expand the office’s outreach efforts in her time there.

The board heard an update on the activities of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, which has supported many business and community efforts in the area, including early childhood education programs and the new CEO high school business program which includes students from three area high schools.

The board approved three contracts involving the Sheriff’s Office — for food service at the County Jail, with New London-Spicer School District for a school resource officer during the school year, and with the state of Minnesota for Toward Zero Deaths traffic enforcement efforts.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340