Ramping up the next wave of attack on invasive species

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Lakes. Fishing. Boats. After a long winter, it's pleasant to contemplate a warm season on the water, even if Minnesota's famed lakes are still mostly covered with ice.

The Star Tribune reports that a number of agencies that address invasive species in Minnesota waters are busily preparing to protection and prevention efforts to thwart further encroachment.

The state Department of Natural Resources plans to spread the word with a campaign on TV, radio and billboards. "City councils, county boards and park systems are allocating money and hiring seasonal inspectors. State natural resource experts are training them. Boat manufacturers are developing filters to keep invaders out of ballast water," the story said.

The newspaper said that DNR will certify about 300 inspectors to work for city, county and park systems to check boats entering clean lakes and leaving infested lakes. About 150 DNR inspectors will be assigned to high-risk sites. They will operate 23 portable decontamination units to disinfect boats and trailers.

Inspectors will also be stationed in the Three Rivers Park System during park hours at lakes including Fish, Bryant, Medicine, Independence, Minnetonka and Hyland, and that most parks will have staff at entry gates to do inspections. Inspections will also be stepped up at boat launches at Harriet, Calhoun and Nokomis lakes in Minneapolis.

The Pioneer Press reported that at an Aquatic Invasive Species Symposium held last week in St. Paul, sponsored by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts, found some relatively positive indicators about the fight. Participants learned that the list of Minnesota waters contaminated by zebra mussels is growing at a slower pace that in the past, with 17 distinct water bodies reporting new infestations.

The Associated Press reported that the boating industry has come on board to help in prevention efforts. The Water Sports Industry Association was one of the partners in presenting the forum. The association is working in tandem with boat makers to test filters that prevent the youngest zebra mussels from being transported in ballast tanks.

Scientists are getting started at the University of Minnesota’s new aquatic invasive species research center, created after legislators appropriated funds for it in 2012.

New invasive species listed on the “least wanted” list by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District include the hydrilla plant, the New Zealand mudsnail, the rusty crayfish, and the spiny water flea.

Fertilized Asian carp eggs were reported earlier this month from samples taken from the Mississippi in waters connected to Minnesota.

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