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

The St. Louis County Board has approved the distribution of $654,530 of state funds for eight projects that will prevent the introduction and limit the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in lakes and rivers in St. Louis County. Commissioners unanimously approved the list of projects during their meeting Tuesday in Virginia.
The approved projects and funding include:
$398,600 to the North St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District to manage watercraft inspections, decontaminations and public education on Bear Island, Birch, Burntside, Crane, Ely, Gilbert-Pit, Johnson, Kabetogama, One Pine, Pelican, Shagawa, and Vermilion Lakes.
$98,000 to Wildlife Forever for marketing efforts for their Clean Drain Dry Initiative campaign aimed at public awareness and education, and behavioral change.
$42,191 to Vermilion Lake Association for continued watercraft inspections and cleaning, public awareness and education, habitat evaluation and threat assessment, early detection and response efforts, and partnership development.
$30,000 to Canosia Township for watercraft inspections and public education on Pike Lake and Caribou Lake.
$24,450 to the University of Minnesota Sea Grant for a pilot project to install CD3 hub stations at four public water accesses (St. Louis River Boy Scout and Munger Landings, Island Lake Abbott Road Landing, and Pike Lake Public Access) to enable boaters to self-inspect their own watercraft.
$22,164 to Grand Lake Township for watercraft inspections on Caribou Lake.
$20,000 to Community Action Duluth for continued eradication, control, mapping, and monitoring of non-native phragmites in the St. Louis River Estuary.
$19,125 to Burntside Lake Association for continued training of boat inspectors, promote the use of boat cleaning stations, improve public awareness and education about AIS, build early detection capabilities, and partnership development.
Each year, through the AIS Prevention Aid Program, the state legislature allocates funding to counties to be used to prevent the introduction or limit the spread of AIS. Through an application and proposal process, St. Louis County has sought out organizations to address AIS issues with multi-disciplinary, integrated solutions based on science, related to natural resources sustainability, and social and economic concerns. The County supports projects that address one or more of the seven categories and associated actions outlined in the St. Louis County AIS Prevention Plan.
The amount of funding received 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 (170) and the highest number of watercraft trailer parking spaces (1,429).
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, starry stonewort, the New Zealand mudsnail, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), round and tubenose gobies, Eurasian ruffe, faucet snail, mystery snail, spiny water flea, Eurasian watermilfoil, and rusty crayfish. More information about the county’s AIS prevention plan and work that’s been done to date is available online at stlouiscountymn.gov/AIS.