Association of Cass County Lakes Works to Place 100 AIS Self-Cleaning Stations
In the land of 10,000 lakes, many are considered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to be infested with aquatic invasive species. Groups like the Association of Cass County Lakes (ACCL) are looking to stop the spread of AIS and maintain the health of their water bodies through a new self-cleaning set-up at area accesses.
“It’s really important to clean your boat coming off the lake. There are invasive plants out there in several lakes now,” noted Cass County AIS Technician Steve Henry. “90% of the lakes in Cass County don’t have any invasive species. So, we don’t want to be moving those around from lake to lake.”
Communities are starting to take action against the spread of AIS. ACCL is doing their part through self-cleaning boat stations that include signs and tools.
ACCL is working with Cass County and the Cass County Soil and Water Division for this project. Each location costs about $105, and the county reimburses about half the cost to ACCL.
“The mission of ACCL is to protect and preserve our waters, our lakes, our rivers, or our waterways,” said ACCL Treasurer Nicholas Bluhm. “We had a discussion last year about getting involved in and putting up signs and tools to remove the AIS at boat landings. So far, of the 100 signs, we’ve put out … about 55.”
A study with simulated AIS showed people who use the self-cleaning tools for two minutes have, on average, 60% less of a chance to spread AIS. With two more minutes of cleaning, that number goes up to 80%.
“Even if people don’t use them, they’re more than likely to spend more time taking stuff off their boat,” said Henry. “It’s really up to boaters’ personal responsibility to keep things from spreading.”
The efforts to stop the spread of AIS are just starting, as ACCL plans to place 100 stations in total around the county. The aim is to have 100 stations in place by July of 2024.
“We are fortunate here in Cass County that AIS hasn’t spread widely yet, that what we’re doing is working,” said Henry. “If we keep it up, we can keep AIS out of our lakes. But it’s going to take everyone’s efforts.”