Automated boat inspection systems now in place at Otter Tail Lake
A new 24-hour automated boat inspection system is up and running at two of Otter Tail Lake’s public accesses.
Called I-LIDS, the system provides a recorded message about aquatic invasive species prevention, audible within a range of 20 feet, to vehicle operators as they approach.
I-LIDS also capture visual images of trailers and boats to help monitor practices at the boat launches. Images taken by the electronic devices are stored and then reviewed by trained personnel.
The system is being primarily overseen by the county’s AIS Task Force and the Otter Tail County Lake Association.
Bill Kalar, the county’s land and resource director and a member of the AIS Task Force, briefed the county board on the I-LIDS project at a July 15 meeting.
A product of Environmental Sentry Protection, I-LIDS technology is used in many parts of Minnesota, but the devices at Otter Tail Lake are the first in Otter Tail County.
According to the March 2014 newsletter for the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations, I-LIDS consist of a sign, video camera, solar panel/controller, audio circuit and speaker, LED light, antenna mast, footing and housing.
As boaters drive by the I-LIDS, they hear an educational message reminding them to clean off weeds and any other evidence of aquatic invasive species as they take their boats in and out of the lake.
Using motion sensors, the devices capture videos of boats and trailers, which get transferred over the internet to a remote server, where they are processed and made available on a website for review.
In other areas of Minnesota, I-LIDS have proven to be a cost effective tool to protect lakes. One example given in the newsletter is Lake Minnetonka, where I-LIDS have helped reduce the number of boats that launch with weeds attached from 7.4 percent to .3 percent.
The Otter Tail Lake I-LIDS were funded by the Otter Tail Lake Association.
By utilizing the I-LIDS, the county hopes to gain a better understanding of how and when aquatic invasive species are spread. The system will help measure peak traffic periods, provide 24/7 monitoring, raise awareness of AIS, and, hopefully, ultimately improve clean-off behaviors.
Suspected violators of AIS rules will be forwarded to county authorities or the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for review and could be issued a warning or citation. Those who are caught on camera thoroughly cleaning off their boats may become candidates for rewards and incentives, such as gift certificates.