Letter: Losing our heads about AIS

The following letter to the editor authored by Bob Berdahl appeared in the most recent issue of the Park Rapids Enterprise. The article was in response to a previous letter by Gary Gorsgaden on March 8, 2014. Full article Here

We are fortunate to have the knowledge and commitment of people like  Bob who can set the record straight. As a brief update, the PLA has currently raised $5,005 from 30 members for our 2014 watercraft inspection program. We are off to a great start! If you have not yet sent in your membershipp dues and inspection donation, below are links to do so today.

Thanks for your support and thank you, Bob, for your leadership.


Kevin Brauer
President, Potato Lake Association

Make a Donation to the Watercraft Inspection Program online.  Click the link here. Scroll down (NOTE THESE ARE NOT ALPHABETIZED, and the Potato Lake Fund is near the bottom of the list)

Or Use the Membership Form by clicking here to turn in your dues and mail a donation.  

Gary Korsgaden’s recent article “Let’s not lose our heads about AIS,” while supportive of the need to control the spread of AIS, provides a lot of incorrect or misleading information.

County commissioners have never considered a request to gate or close any Hubbard County controlled launch site for AIS prevention. State law prohibits closing of DNR controlled launch sites.

The allegation that Hubbard County Lake Associations and Lake residents have “tried and failed” to keep non-lakeshore owners off of the lakes is simply not true. As a leader in COLA and former President of the Potato Lake Association, I can say that there has never been a discussion about limiting access to those not living on the lakes. Our lake associations exist to protect and preserve our lakes for everyone to enjoy.

The watercraft inspection program is a major initiative to control the spread of AIS by insuring that watercraft entering our lakes are free of aquatic vegetation and water. Zebra Mussel Veligers will not survive in a dry environment. The countywide program for 2013 involved 20 DNR-trained and certified watercraft inspectors working 21 lakes and performing 10,600 watercraft inspections. Nine percent of the inspected watercraft came from infested waters, 5 percent had not removed their drain plugs (a violation of state law) and 3 percent had attached vegetation (also a violation). The inspection data confirms that some watercraft owners still do not follow state law and good practices regarding AIS. Our watercraft inspectors provide a valuable service in an efficient and friendly manner by educating watercraft users. The entire watercraft inspection program is supervised by one person from the SWCD.

Laws requiring watercraft drain plug and vegetation removal are easy to follow and have major impact on the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species.

There is no evidence that migratory birds spread Zebra Mussels or Eurasian Watermilfoil. If you look at a state map of AIS infested waters you will see a line of lakes following Highway 94 north out of the Twin Cities plus a few destination lakes such as Mille Lacs. Watercraft moving lake to lake spread most of the Aquatic Invasives in Minnesota.

There is no documented case of Zebra Mussels disappearing from a lake or river once they have found their way in. Populations can fluctuate, however, as they multiply and stabilize at a sustainable level. Zebra Mussels have NOT disappeared from the Mississippi River.

Legislative support for funding is required to fund reasonable AIS prevention and control practices. The DNR budget of $700 million provides only $8 million for AIS prevention. Given the DNR role in protecting our lakes, this level of effort is unacceptable. Our Legislative leaders can change this.

The hard work of a many individuals, Hubbard County SWCD, townships, and commissioners of Hubbard County to prevent the spread of AIS to our lakes needs to continue and be supported by everyone. The annual expense to prevent or delay an infestation is well worth the cost when one considers the value of the lake experience. We must continue our AIS prevention effort so that we do not lose what we all come here to enjoy.

Bob Berdahl

Potato Lake