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County working to stop the spread of zebra mussels in local waters

A zebra mussel is seen in this undated photo. Photo by Celeste Beam/Alexandria Echo Press

The spread of zebra mussels in a growing number of Minnesota lakes has the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners worried and poised to take state action to prevent the invasive species from entering lakes here.

Special legislation is needed to address issues, like how to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and how to quarantine a lake that already has zebra mussels, said Chairman Dennis Peterson.

The commissioners are in the process of writing a resolution for the environment and natural resources committee of the Association of Minnesota Counties to adopt as part of its 2010 legislative platform. Commissioners intend to submit that resolution to the association's policy committees next week to initiate a statewide effort to address a problem that's leaping from lake to lake.

"Minnesota has over 10,000 lakes throughout the state, which makes it impossible for individual counties to prevent the spread of the invasive species without a statewide coordinated effort and funding," said Kandiyohi County Administrator Larry Kleindl in a letter to the Association of Minnesota Counties.

The current grant process of the state Department of Natural Resources to fund prevention of invasive species "does not even come close to funding what the true cost of addressing the issue," he said. "Therefore, we are failing to attack the problem and losing our lakes to invasive species."

While there are steps to combat Eurasian water milfoil and curly pond leaf that are already in many lakes in Kandiyohi County, there is currently no effective way to rid lakes of zebra mussels once they arrive, said Peterson.

That's why a plan of action is needed.

"We believe the state needs to take a more active approach before it is too late," said Kleindl in the letter.

Carolyn Lange

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

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