Cass County FiveStar Lake Service Provider (LSPs) Program has launched (modeled after Itasca County). We have sent letters out to 18 businesses and visited a handful more. So far, we have eight participating providers, Land O’ Lakes Marine, The Dock Guys, Olds Lifts and Docks Service, Prososki All Care Service, Lake Life Dock & Lift, Musky House, Northwoods Dock and Service, Resort Marine & Service, and Grand Rapids Marine. You can visit the Cass AIS Program website to learn more about the program. Warning, this website link is subject to change on July 1st, as the County updates their websites, but the content will remain so it may just take a little searching. We ask that lake associations please advertise these FiveStar LSPs in your newsletters, on social media pages, websites, and email blasts. I can provide you with the FiveStar logo and company logos for use, please ask. As we continue to receive responses from LSPs, I may reach out and ask Lake Association members to write letters requesting their LSPs make the commitment to prevent the spread of AIS and sign up for the FiveStar Program. I have pre-drafted letters I can provide you with. We encourage all lake association members to ask and verify that their LSPs are DNR permitted, and to encourage them to become a FiveStar LSP. They can share my contact information with the LSPs if they’d like to learn more or send them to the Cass FiveStar Programwebsite.
Zebra mussel and spiny waterflea monitoring program starting this summer. The Cass AIS Program will provide a plankton tow net, training, and sampling bottles to lake associations interested in participating in the program. The plankton nets are expensive, so we have a limited supply. They are to be loaned out for 3-day periods, recollected by the Cass AIS Lake Technician for decontamination (some drop off locations should be available and can be discussed closer to the time of the sampling), and then delivered to the next lake association. For lake associations interested in participating with the veliger sampling, this will take place in July and August. The program is a 25/75 percent cost share so the Lake Associations would be responsible for $24, and the Cass AIS Program will pay $72. The spiny waterflea sampling will take place separately in the fall, specifically we are asking participants to do evening sampling for best results. The spiny waterflea sampling is free as we will not need to use a lab to process the samples. Please contact me directly if you are interested in participating with either of these monitoring programs.
We are currently verifying and updating the list of marine partners participating in our decontamination program to provide FREE basic decontaminations for boaters. You can check this website: https://stopais-casscountymn.hub.arcgis.com/ for updates. Please let me know if you will need printed copies of the decontamination location maps for kiosks, new member packets, association meetings, etc. I will also bring these to the ACCL meetings so feel free to ask for handouts there. I have other laminated signage about bait laws, drying docks and lifts, how to clean/drain/dry/dispose, and even a tool station sign, so please contact me if you are looking for fresh signs for kiosks. I will also have some of these signs available at the ACCL meetings.
Through a MN Legacy Grant the MN Lakes and Rivers Advocates have been able to provide the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO) with CD3 boat washing stations at lakes with starry stonewort to help prevent the spread of starry stonewort and other AIS. The Cass AIS Program is partnering with the LLBO to support part of the annual operating costs for CD3s located within Cass County boundaries, as well as providing support with boater education and equipment checks to ensure no vandalism or tool loss has occurred. We will be working with the LLBO on gathering data on frequency of use of the stations as well.
The Cass SWCD approved a new fully managed watercraft inspector program run by Water Guards for the 2022 season. The costs are comparable with what we were paying the temp agency previously, but it comes with a lot of additional services. If you know someone interested in a position as a watercraft inspector, they can apply at: https://www.waterguards.net/employment.html We are also updating the allocated inspector hours at the public accesses. With well over 100 public accesses, we are not able to staff every location, and need to continue to utilize our limited resources in the most effective manner. To do this, we are using the tool developed by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), as well as information from the past 3 years of Cass County inspection data. Accesses to have inspector hours have been grouped into high, medium, and low categories based on the MAISRC AIS Explorer tool Prioritization for Watercraft Inspections and frequency of use. Please see the 2022 inspector allocation hours for the breakdown. These hours are subject to change based on ability to hire and staff the accesses, changes in frequencies of use at the accesses, and any changes if new infestations are discovered during the season. Primary days of coverage will be Friday-Sunday with decontamination stations being staffed on Thursdays as well at Federal Dam and Gull Dam Accesses. New this year, lake associations and property owners' associations will have the opportunity to pay for additional hours of inspector coverage at accesses if they are interested in seeing hours and/or days above and beyond those allocated for coverage by the Cass AIS Program. The hours allocated by the Cass AIS Program would take priority for staffing before any additional hours could be purchased by the lake associations. Lake associations and property owners' groups looking to pay for additional hours would have to work with the Cass AIS Program and have Water Guards inspectors due to the way the DNR inspector program is set-up. These inspector hours would cost $26/hour for actual inspector hours at the access. This cost would be invoiced monthly by the Cass AIS Program, which would then pay WaterGuards for the additional hours. Another option for coverage at accesses is to recruit volunteers to become AIS Volunteers through online DNR training. These AIS volunteers do not have the authority to complete inspections or deny launch, but they can assist and educate boaters how to properly inspect their own boats and on AIS information and laws. AIS Volunteers do have to complete a background check through the DNR at no charge and report their schedule and hours to the DNR. To learn more about this program you can go to https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/ais/volunteer.html and https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/ais_volunteer/training.html or contact the MN DNR area supervisor for our region, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the AIS Explorer tool you can watch this video MAISRC | AIS Explorer webinar and/or check out the MAISRC information sheet, or read the excerpt from the MAISRC informational handout below:
"Researchers at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center have developed an online dashboard—AIS Explorer—that both forecasts the introduction risk of aquatic invasive species (AIS) to individual waterbodies and provides decision-making support for optimizing watercraft inspection efficacy. After five years of development, the project team established a robust lake-connectivity network. With over 1.6 million data points of reported boater movements and a complex array of river connections, thousands of simulations were done to test the accuracy of the model and create the AIS Explorer. AIS Explorer provides guidance on two key prevention methods:
Surveillance: modeling the likelihood of new infestations
Watercraft inspections: prioritization of physical intervention at the riskiest lakes
The AIS Explorer dashboard is free and open to the public. Users can focus on any lake in Minnesota, or view model results on a county level. To stay current, the underlying models update weekly to account for new infestations and changing risk dynamics.
Using an optimization modeling approach, the data sources are used to quantify the number of risky boats inspected given a set management threshold. The model is run at the county-level, for each county in Minnesota, considering the movement of boats into, within, and out of the county. At the county level, managers can determine a management threshold, include/exclude specific lakes, and consider up to four aquatic invasive species (zebra mussels, starry stonewort, spiny water flea, and Eurasian watermilfoil). The results rank lakes within a county that should be prioritized for watercraft inspection effort and provides a figure that displays the optimal balance of inspection resources to maximize the number of risky boats intercepted and visualizes the point of diminishing returns from added inspections."
Check out the Itasca Waters Practical Water Wisdom: A Virtual Learning Seriesstarting in April and going through November, 2022. They will be covering a different lake topic on the first Thursday of the month from 12:00 to 1:00 PM.
Aquatic Invasive Species
In 2009 while doing shoreline studies, the DNR discovered Eurasian Watermilfoil (EWM) in the East Basin not far from the public landing. A 4.5 acre area was chemically treated. The following year, volunteers with scuba gear, kayaks, and boats searched the water of the East Basin and walkers searched the shoreline looking for signs that the EWM had spread.
Two small patches were found in 2012 which were treated. As of 2014 there had not been a reoccurrence of EWM in these areas.
In August, 2014, three new areas totaling 11 acres were found and treated. LWA will continue to be diligent against the spread of all Aquatic Invasive Species.
As of August 2016 reports show no new AIS plant sightings.
We have had two summers now since we treated for Eurasian Watermilfoil. Last year there were numerous hours of LWA folks surveying for EWM and the Association hired a professional to survey the East Basin. We have had two years when no EWM was found (nor any other invasive species).
Our approach to AIS is not just surveying and treating for EWM.
Great strides have been made in boat inspections thanks to those who have worked diligently to coordinate inspections in conjunction with our neighbors and the township. These efforts are key in keeping out other invasive species such as zebra mussels, curly leaf pondweed, and starry stonework and many others.
Education is important. Learning to identify and prevent AIS. There are signs on all major roads to the lake as a reminder to inspect your boat before using numerous public and private launches on the lake.
Remember to drain, clean, dry your watercraft!
WRITTEN BY BOB HOLMAN
Installing an early detection device on your dock is one of the easiest ways to help against the infestation of zebra mussels. It hangs from the dock on a rope. The device should be placed about one foot from the bottom of the lake and checked monthly. The baby zebra mussels - Veligers attach themselves to it causing the pipe to feel rough.
Contact the DNR or lake association if any detection occurs on the device.
If you have an interest in the detection device -
Contact Bob Holman
Lake Washburn Association
Gary Langer, RALALA
or any other
Crooked Lake Township
AIS committee member.
As you drive through the Central Lakes Region of Minnesota, you will see many signs concerning Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) posted in many cities and along highways, especially at marinas and public landings. There is a high degree of AIS awareness in the lakes region and a strong effort to restrict the spread of the AIS contamination to other lakes.
Many of these signs will suggest that you “Decontaminate” your boat or watercraft. That request does not mean to imply that your boat may be dirty and need to get it washed, it suggests your boat needs to go through a specialized decontamination process designed to remove zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil.
Adult zebra mussels and mussel larvae called veligers are very tenacious creatures and can attach themselves firmly to any solid surface such as boats, dock, lifts and anchors. They are very difficult to kill and very difficult to see and remove as well. The primary method of AIS contamination is by being transported into the lake by a contaminated boat, dock or lift.
The adult zebra mussel and Eurasian watermilfoil are relatively easy to see but may be difficult to remove from your boat, trailer or other equipment. When the water temperature reaches 54 degrees (F) or higher, the zebra mussels are able to reproduce releasing millions of veligers into the lake. The veliger larvae are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. You could not see them even if you looked for them. They drift on the surface of the water with the wind and the current looking to attach to a solid surface; a boat or dock being an ideal target. They can attach themselves to your boat and then the boat carries them wherever you go and contaminate other lakes where your boat is launched.
Attached to a boat, a simple car wash with a garden hose is not going to kill them or remove them from your boat. The Watercraft Decontamination Process uses very hot water (120 degrees to 140 degrees (F)) under pressure to blast the veligers, vegetation and adult zebra mussels from your boat. The DNR states that it takes at least 10 seconds of pressurized hot water exposure to kill off the zebra mussels.
The Watercraft Decontamination Process can be dangerous using pressurized hot water and requires specialized training and equipment. The Level 2 Inspectors that operate the Decontamination Stations are extensively trained by the DNR. There are many unique hiding places that mussels or veligers can find to hide on a boat, in an engine, on a trailer and on all the other equipment used in watercraft. It takes specialized training to find them and to clean them out. Decontamination is not a do-it-yourself project.
The $10M the Minnesota Legislature voted to distribute to some counties to fight AIS funds the Level 1 Inspectors who inspect your boat at the public landing for visual evidence of AIS and for the Level 2 Inspectors that operate Decontamination Stations. Cass County administers the entire Level 1 and Level 2 Inspector program in Crooked Lake Township. They purchased the decontamination unit and equipment needed for the Decontamination Process found near the Outing Canister Station behind the Town Hall. If your boat has been in other lakes, especially lakes with known AIS contamination, you definitely need to get your boat decontaminated. You do not need to wait for an inspector for a recommendation, you can get your boat decontaminated anytime the station is open – a free service to protect our waters.
Eurasian Watermilfoil Search & Delineation Survey
Washburn Lake (#11-0059)
Cass County, MN
Surveyed: September 8, 2017