St. Louis County is looking for ideas on how to prevent the introduction or limit the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. The County has $711,323 to award in grant money through the state’s AIS Prevention Aid Program.
Projects should focus on the protection or maintenance of aquatic resource, and social or economic impacts of AIS. To be considered, projects must address one or more of the seven categories and associated actions outlined in the St. Louis County Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Plan:
. Assess county resources and risks for AIS introduction and spread.
. Increase resources for county-wide education and enforcement.
. Increase public awareness and participation in prevention.
. Raise available resources and leverage partnerships.
. Broaden knowledge of and participation in early detection and rapid response activities.
. Manage existing populations of AIS.
. Address specific pathways for AIS introduction.
Applications, instructions and other details can be found online at stlouiscountymn.gov/ais. The deadline to apply is December 6. Grant awards will be announced in January 2018, and projects are expected to begin in the spring of 2018.
Since 2014, when the AIS Prevention Aid Program started, St. Louis County has distributed more than $2.4 million to fund projects aimed at preventing or limiting the spread of AIS. Previous projects funded through this program include watercraft inspection programs, decontamination equipment, AIS monitoring programs, and public education campaigns
Each year, through the AIS Prevention Aid Program, the state legislature gives funding to counties to allocate to organizations that will participate in AIS research, control, prevention, and education activities. How much funding comes from the state is based on a formula that factors each county’s share of watercraft trailer launches and watercraft trailer parking spaces. Of Minnesota’s 87 counties, St. Louis County has the second highest number of watercraft trailer launches (166) and the highest number of watercraft trailer parking spaces (1,173).
Aquatic invasive species disrupt the health of water bodies, and pose a myriad of threats to natural, cultural and recreational resources of the region. Key AIS species of concern in St. Louis County include zebra and quagga mussels, the New Zealand mudsnail, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), round and tubenose gobies, Eurasian ruffe, faucet snail, mystery snail, spiny water flea, Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife and rusty crayfish.