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Minneapolis digs deep in battle to keep zebra mussels out of city lakes

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The battle against the zebra mussel in Minnesota has been dispiriting for lake lovers. The fast-moving invasive species has now filtered into a long list of lakes – but so far, none in Minneapolis.

To keep it that way, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board this year geared up for its broadest and priciest fight yet to keep zebra mussels out of the city's lakes, MPR reports.

The striped-shelled invasive species have been spreading in Lake Minnetonka since they were discovered there in 2010, and since then, Minneapolis officials have intensified their effort to keep it out of the city, MPR reports. (The city's Lake Hiawatha has been labeled "infested" because of its connection to Lake Minnetonka, but no zebra mussels have been found there yet, MPR notes.)

There is no proven method yet to get rid of fast-multiplying zebra mussels once they appear in a lake, so officials say their best strategy for now is to prevent the invaders from appearing at all. To that end, at a cost of roughly $160,000, every boat entering Minneapolis' Lakes Calhoun, Harriet and Nokomis on a public boat ramp is inspected, MPR reports, and monitoring devices have been placed in the lakes to tip officials to any possible infestations.

Minneapolis last summer imposed new restrictions on boat traffic on city lakes, a bold effort that surprised anglers and conservation leaders, the Star Tribune reported.

In addition, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District has ramped up its early-detection efforts to monitor the creek for the first sign of zebra mussels. Lake Minnetonka flows into the creek and eventually runs through Lake Hiawatha in south Minneapolis.

A DNR study indicated it would cost more than $65 million a year to have mandatory inspections at every lake infested with zebra mussels in the state, and Minnesota this year is only spending about $8 million to battle all aquatic invasive species, MPR reported.

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