AIS Program concerns commissioners

by HANNAH BROADBENT
hannah.broadbent@ecm-inc.com

Minnesota’s fishing opener this year is May 13, 2017. For thousands of Minnesotans, opener means waking up early to hit the water and find the best spot on the lake. For others it means the first day of a long work season.

The Carver County Board of Commissioners approved this years Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Program last Tuesday. DNR inspectors will be working around the clock in the majority of lakes mid-May through September, performing inspections and educating the community. The plan passed three to one. The only query was towards the effectivness of it.

“I’m just not sure how much progress we’ve made,” said board member James Ische. “I struggle to support this every year.”

The AIS program asked for 400,000 dollars. The largest percentage of it, 37 percent, coming from the Carver County Prevention Aid.

“We’re not recommending a significant change in funding,” said Andrew Dickhart with the Planning and Water Management Department.

The program has been in place since 2012. According to Dickhart there are three focuses this year. Early detection, inspections, education and outreach. Dickhart says that every new addition and idea for this years plan comes from community forums with citizens as well as discussions with community parterns like the City of Chanhassen and the Carver County Water Management Organization(WMO),

An important focus this year is “more involved” inspections.

“The county works very closely with it’s partners and stakeholders to determine it’s level of inspection services on a lake to lake basis,” Dickhart said. “We can offer extensive service on individual lake services.”

Insepections are based off of each lakes need. Some lakes are more popular than others, for Example Lake Waconia in the WMO vs. Lake Wasserman in the Minnehaha Watershed District. Lakes like Wasserman and Pierson in the watershed would be classified as “Roving Lakes” or lakes that are not used as much. Though roving lakes will still see regular decontamination inspections on higher use days like the weekends.

Fishermen can still call and request an inspection even on lower use days.

“An inspector can be there within minutes,” Dickhart said.

A situation like this concerns the board, questioning the likelyhood of citizens doing so. Dickhart says they will place a sign hoping people will follow through.

Dickhart mentions additonal things the WMO are hoping for. For example, DNR decontamination tags as proof of inspection as well as the possible testing of a central location for insepections prior to boat launching.

“The idea is a more cost effective approach to watercraft inspection,” Dickhart said.

The Planning and Water Management Departments will continue to hold forums in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018.

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