Protecting lakes, rivers will require extra efforts

Doug Ramseth
Guest Columnist

The Clear Lake Association, Inc. consists of 107 families residing on Clear Lake in Washington County. We are extremely concerned regarding the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). The association’s board of directors has attended aquatic invasive species symposia, followed events in the legislature, and read widely on the subject.

The Clear Lake Association since its founding in 1991 has had a long-term working relationship with the Minnesota DNR and the Rice Creek Watershed District on issues affecting Clear Lake. This relationship has intensified since 2006 when our lake became infested with Eurasian watermilfoil.

The board of directors believes that AIS control and prevention initiatives proposed by the DNR and legislature are insufficient to keep Clear Lake and every other lake in the state from becoming infested with each new AIS on the horizon. Drastic measures are required if we are to protect our lake and river resources. We know from experience with Eurasian watermilfoil that, once present, the invasive species are likely there forever.

Therefore we urge the legislature and the DNR to take bold actions rather than half measures that no one believes will slow let alone halt the spread of AIS.

For example, we support a surcharge on boat licenses of at least $35 to be used solely for AIS prevention and treatment. Our members own at least one watercraft and would accept an increased surcharge dedicated to AIS control. Boaters who use and enjoy our lakes and rivers should take a larger share of the burden of maintaining healthy, AIS free waters.

We also support and urge the DNR to implement a quarantine system where boats that are used in AIS infested waters cannot be launched in non-infested waters without being sanitized and certified by licensed professionals as being free of aquatic invasive species. Boaters make decisions where they launch their boats, and if they elect to launch in infested waters, they voluntarily submit themselves to having their boats sanitized and certified.

Legislators and government officials cannot take half steps and expect to stop the ever increasing AIS menace. Let Minnesota be the first state to take dramatic, forceful, and proactive measures to save our lakes and rivers. Half measures will not work.

Thank you for your past and future actions to address this most serious issue. — An opinion from the Clear Lake Association, Inc.