St. Louis County Commissioners have given initial approval to the distribution of $727,750 of state funds for projects that will prevent the introduction or limit the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in lakes and rivers in St. Louis County. Seven projects were selected following review by the County’s Planning and Community Development Department based on what best fits with the County’s AIS plan.
Some of the projects are new. Others are a continuation of work done in previous years. Final approval is expected to come at the County Board meeting on February 6, but during today’s Committee of the Whole meeting, commissioners unanimously approved funding the following:
. $391,350 to the North Soil and Water Conservation District to manage watercraft inspections, decontaminations and public education on Burntside, Shagawa, Pelican, Ely and Vermilion Lakes.
. $114,000 to Wildlife Forever for public education through multi-media marketing, as well as a CD3 (Clean. Drain. Dry. Dispose.) station pilot project.
. $59,000 to the Vermilion Lake Association to continue its efforts with watercraft inspection and cleaning; public education;and early detection, rapid response and population management.
. $50,00 to the Izaak Walton League of America for a contingency water ballast water treatment system for the Lake Superior Harbor.
. $26,000 to the Burntside Lake Association to expand training of boat inspectors, promote use of boat cleaning stations, public education and build early detection capabilities.
. $22,500 to Canosia Township for inspections and public education to users of Pike Lake and Caribou Lake.
. $14,900 to Grand Lake Township for inspections on Caribou Lake.
An additional $50,000 is designated for reserve funding to address seasonal situations that may arise.
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.
Since 2014, the county has appropriated more than $3.1 million in state funds to combat AIS. To learn more about efforts to control AIS, or to subscribe to receive updates on the topic from the County, visit stlouiscountymn.gov/AIS.