from March 2nd Aitkin Independent Age
I attended a roundtable at the Community College in Brainerd last week where eight scientists and supervisors from Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources converged on our region. The DNR is holding four meetings around the state to consult with citizens and special folks called “Stakeholders.” I’m thinking that stakeholders are the ones who are particularly concerned about our Minnesota waters and anything that threatens them.
The topic at these public meetings is “Management of Aquatic Invasive Plants and Animals.” In the DNR’s Annual Report for 2010 on Invasive Species, the Problem is defined as “non-native species that have the potential to threaten our water resources and cause serious harm.” Most of the discussion at Brainerd concerned Eurasian watermilfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, and zebra mussels.
In recent years in Aitkin County we have learned about some of these “invasives” at the annual Rivers and Lakes Fair, held in June at Rippleside Elementary School. Volunteers from a number of lake associations have been trained by DNR specialists in how to conduct boat inspections and instruct boaters in procedures to prevent the spread of species from lake to lake. The DNR has placed part-time interns at public access landings on Big Sandy Lake during the busy summer hours to meet boaters and make them aware of new regulations and how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).
DESIGNING A NEW PROGRAM
In the roundtable discussion and brainstorming exercise in which I took part, the consensus was that more education and information is needed by the boating public, with better focus and clearer messages in newspapers, at bait shops, and in the broadcast media.
In those lakes where infestations have been attacked there needs to be long-term follow through to provide effective control throughout the lake. There are some success stories where a few infested lakes have been successfully treated and areas of invasives, both Eurasian watermilfoil and curly-leaf pondweed, have been limited or reduced.
Clearly, the DNR is asking for help from those who want to address the AIS problem. My meeting was just Phase 1 in a three-phase process. Stay tuned.