Kandiyohi County is proud of its lakes, and there is a group of people who want to keep those natural gems healthy and viable for the next generations. Top on their list is preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species into those lakes.
“I’m doing it for my children and my grandchildren. The people will thank you for it,” said Terry Frazee, who served on the Green Lake Property Owners Association and currently sits on the Kandiyohi County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force.
Frazee and Richard Falk, a former Kandiyohi County Commissioner, spoke this week to the Willmar Public Works and Public Safety Committee about efforts to slow the spread of aquatic invasive species.
“Once an AIS is in a lake, it’s there,” Frazee said.
Frazee said the Green Lake Property Owners Association purchased a power washer a few years ago for boaters to use to clean off their boats before leaving the lake. Now the group is helping install the inspection camera system called I-LIDS, or Internet Landing Installed Device Sensor, created by Environmental Sentry Protection. Frazee and Falk would like to see the same system installed throughout Kandiyohi County, including at the boat launches at Willmar and Foot Lakes.
“We want to have every boat access in Kandiyohi County covered,” Frazee said.
There are I-LIDS systems installed at Green Lake and Lake Florida.
The system includes a self-contained, solar-powered camera that takes photos and video of a boat as it goes in and out of the water. The camera will be able to capture not only the license numbers of the boat, but be able to remotely inspect the watercraft and see if there are any invasive species being transported in or out of the lake. The system also includes an audio message asking boaters to clean off their boats. Frazee said just by looking at the video and photos, you can tell the system does remind people to check their boats.
“This works 24 hours a day,” Frazee said.
Each system costs approximately $7,000, less than what it would cost to hire a human inspector for each launch. The Kandiyohi County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force has a grant program in place to pay for half of the cost for the system. The funding for the grant comes from the state, which gives Kandiyohi County $126,000 a year for aquatic invasive species prevention funding, Frazee said.
Falk said the lake associations in Willmar have shown interest in helping fund such a project as well.
Currently, Green Lake, Lake Calhoun, Games Lake, Norway Lake and Lake Florida are infested with either Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussel or both. The hope is to prevent other lakes in Kandiyohi County from being added to that list.
“We don’t want more weeds,” Frazee said.
Frazee said the next real worry is starry stonewort, which has found its way into Lake Koronis near Paynesville.
“You must be proactive,” Frazee said.
The committee approved a motion Tuesday to go forward with the plan to install the I-LIDS system at Willmar and Foot Lakes.
“It needs to be discussed and talked about,” Councilman Ron Christianson said.
Planning and Development Services Director Bruce Peterson said he has looked into the system as well, and believes it could be a help at the city’s three boat launches.
“There is nothing as effective for the cost as these monitors,” Peterson said.