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Green Lake group to rally for containing zebra mussels

SPICER -- Fear of the havoc that a zebra mussel infestation could bring to Green Lake and other waters in the Crow River watershed has led the Green Lake Property Owners Association to host a return presentation by retired fisheries biologist and outdoor author Dick Sternberg.

The association is sending out letters and encouraging people to attend Sternberg's presentation at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 28 at Green Lake Bible Camp in Spicer.

It's hoped the meeting will lead to legislative action to strengthen efforts to contain the spread of the invasive species.

Zebra mussels have recently been found in Lake Minnetonka. Four of the state's 10 most popular fishing tournament sites are now infected. Green Lake is among the top 10 popular fishing destinations, and sees lots of traffic from anglers and recreational boaters who frequent other waters, the property owners association said.

Sternberg will outline plans to combat the spread of zebra mussels that go beyond the current prevention efforts by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Proposals include the possibility of asking boat owners who have been on infested waters to keep their watercraft out of Green Lake for a 21-day time frame.

Zebra mussels are readily spread to other waters when their larvae known as veligers are present in the water of live wells or boat motors and bilge pumps. The veligers can survive for days in small amounts of water, and are so small they cannot always be seen with the naked eye.

Once they infest a lake, zebra mussels attach themselves to virtually every surface and smother native mussels. They gobble up the zooplankton and disrupt the food chain for native fish. Sternberg believes their presence will inevitably harm the populations of popular game fish in the county's lakes.

Sternberg emphasizes a containment effort focused on watercraft coming from the three dozen or so lakes known to be infected, rather than trying to stop their entry at access points on the 11,000 or so other lakes in the state.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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