If You Value Healthy Lakes – You Need to Know About Aquatic Invasive Species!
Invasive species are species that are not native to Minnesota and cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. Aquatic invasives can be spread by individuals often without any awareness. With more than 500 lakes which are ten acres or larger, Cass County residents and visitors want and depend on healthy lakes and environmental conditions. Aquatic invasive species have the potential to disrupt the ecological and economic health of Cass County. If you fish, boat, own lakeshore, or recreate on Cass County lakes, you need to know how to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species!
“Since 2014, the Cass County AIS Task Force has been pulling together as a team to aggressively plan and implement strategies to prevent all forms of aquatic invasive species from entering our public waters by educating, inspecting watercraft, and decontaminating boats and trailers leaving infested waters,” reports Rima Smith-Keprios, AIS program coordinator, Cass County and Soil and Water Conservation District. “Our goal is to prevent infestations from occurring and manage those waters that are infested and we need your help.”
Which lakes and rivers in Cass County have aquatic invasive species?
There are 17 infestations of aquatic invasive species in Cass County. Aquatic invasive species that have been found in Cass County waters include zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil, faucet snails, and mystery/banded snails. Public waters with infestations include Bass (or Ray), Cass and the unnamed stream connecting Cass to Pike Bay, Crow Wing River, Green’s, Gull, Margaret, Mississippi River between Wolf, Andrusia, Cass and Winnibigoshish, Leech, Spider, Town Line, Upper Gull, and Washburn lakes as well as Gull River and Leech Lake River downstream of Mud Lake.
How should I remove a personal watercraft from an infested lake or river?
Avoid areas with aquatic plants before trailering your personal watercraft. Run the engine for 5-10 seconds on the trailer to blow out excess water and vegetation from the internal drive, and then turn the engine off. Clean aquatic plants and animals from the hull, trailer, water intake grate, and steering nozzle before leaving the water access. Remember the following 3 steps: Clean, drain, dispose. 1. CLEAN all visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species from watercraft, trailers, and water-related equipment. 2. DRAIN water-related equipment and drain the bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs before leaving a water access or shoreline property. Keep drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft. 3. DISPOSE of unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, and worms, in the trash. If you want to keep your bait, you must refill the bait container with bottled or tap water that you would have brought with you and left in your vehicle while you were on the lake.
Where are the decontamination units? How are lakes chosen to have these units?
Decontamination units can be found at: Gull Lake Recreation Area and Dam/Government Point, Crooked Lake Town Hall in Outing, Emily/Ruth Lake, and South of Cross Lake on #3 to Highway Maintenance Facility, at the Visitor’s Center public access on Cass Lake. Lake Service Providers that offer decontamination services include Walker Marine, Northwood’s Docks, Musky House, and Prososki’s Dock and Marine. These locations are determined by areas that have AIS, are connected to water bodies that have AIS, or are very high traffic locations. There will be a permanent decontamination unit coming very soon to the Federal Dam Recreation Area.
Where can I learn more about AIS?
• Cass County
• MN DNR
• Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
• Association of Cass County Lakes (ACCL)
• Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISCR)