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St. Louis County board approves eight projects to combat aquatic invasive species

St. Louis County commissioners unanimously approved the distribution of $657,000 of state funds for projects that will prevent the introduction and limit the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in lakes and rivers in St. Louis County.

Eight projects were selected following review by the County’s Planning and Community Development Department based on what fit best with the County’s Aquatic Invasive Species plan.

Some of the projects are new. Others are a continuation of work done in previous years. The approved projects and funding include:

$378,000 to the North Soil and Water Conservation District to manage watercraft inspections, decontaminations and public education on Burntside, Shagawa, Pelican, Ely, Kabetogama, and Vermilion Lakes.

$75,000 to Wildlife Forever for marketing efforts aimed at public education.

$60,000 to Community Action Duluth to continue eradication efforts on nonnative phragmites in the St. Louis River.

$36,000 to Vermilion Lake Association for continued watercraft inspections and cleaning, and early detection and response efforts.

$17,000 to Grand Lake Township for boat inspections on Caribou Lake.

$16,000 to the Burntside Lake Association to expand training of boat inspectors and various public outreach efforts.

$15,000 to Canosia Township to fund inspections and public education on Pike Lake and Caribou Lake.

$10,000 to the City of Duluth for maintenance and outreach relation to the CD3 (Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose) station at Munger Landing on the St. Louis River.

Additionally, St. Louis County will hold $50,000 in a reserve account to address urgent needs 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.

The amount of funding 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.