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Kandiyohi County Board urged to remain vigilant, informed in fight against aquatic invasive species

WILLMAR -- With 17 lakes and 43 boat accesses in Kandiyohi County, the fear that zebra mussels will get into waters here is a growing concern.

The aquatic invasive species has already been found in at least two Minnesota lakes, including Mille Lacs Lake.

"There's nothing to stop zebra mussels right now," said Terry Frazee on Tuesday during a presentation to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.

As the executive secretary of the Green Lake Property Owners, chairman of the Kandiyohi County Lakes Association and a member of the State Board of Minnesota Waters, Frazee is well-aware of the dangers that aquatic invasive species -- like zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil and the curly-leaf pond weed -- can have on lakes that have been favorite swimming and fishing spots in the county.

"These lakes are under stress," said Frazee.

Without action, the quality of the county lakes will continue to get worse.

Efforts to combat milfoil have been effective in Green Lake, he said, but the cost to do so is high.

The proliferation of invasive plants is choking out some popular lakes, like Norway Lake, he said. "It's spreading across our lakes."

The weeds are spread by boats going from one lake to another, carrying bits of plants with them.

Zebra mussels were brought to Minnesota on commercial shipping vessels coming through the Great Lakes.

Now there's concern that fishing and recreational boats will transfer the destructive zebra mussels to other Minnesota lakes unless efforts are made to stop the invasive species before it gets here.

If zebra mussels do get into Kandiyohi County lakes, said Frazee, there's nothing that can be done to stop them from rapidly increasing in numbers and changing the lakes here forever.

"The lakes won't be the same as what they were in the past," he said.

Instead of sandy beaches, the shores will be littered with razor sharp shells and going barefoot will be impossible.

Despite the lack of any corrective action against zebra mussels once they're in lakes, Frazee said action can be taken to stop them from getting here by increasing awareness and education about cleaning boats before going from lake to lake.

Some other states have required that boats be quarantined for 10 days before they go from one lake to another to prevent invasive species from spreading.

"We need to take a stand for our lakes," he said.

In other County Board action Tuesday:

- The commissioners agreed to refinance the Health and Human Services building with general obligation capital improvement bonds. Bids for the bonds will be opened July 21. If current interest rates continue, the county could save $500,000 to $800,000 over the next seven years.

- Deeming the structure a hazard, the commissioners voted unanimously to demolish a home in Roseland Township owned by Bryce Peters Financial Corporation. The cost of the demolition will be paid for up-front by the county and placed on the property taxes. The owner has reportedly been delinquent on taxes for the last three years.

- The commissioners denied a request by Mike Potjer to have solid waste fees abated on vacant lots in his mobile home park in Lake Lillian. They may later consider procedural changes in how those fees are applied.

- Sheriff Dan Hartog said the county has received a state Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic grant to put extra patrol officers on an eight-mile stretch of County Road 5 between state Highways 23 and 7, south of Willmar. The effort will begin this week and extend through September.

? Bids for a liner and cover project at the sanitary landfill were opened. There were 10 bidders for the project. All the bids were well below the estimated cost of $1,156,709. The apparent low bidder, Chad Monson Excavating LLC of Willmar, offered a bid amount of $527,318 - which is less than half of the estimated cost. The highest bid for the project was $781,870. Action will be taken on the bids at the next board meeting.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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