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County continues fight against aquatic invasives

Tom Hintgen/FOCUS This sign at Johnson Lake, east of Dalton, is among the 200 such signs currently being posted by the Otter Tail County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force.

The Otter Tail County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force continues to take a proactive approach in stopping the spread of invasives throughout the county.

The task force is currently in the process of positioning 200 signs along county roads, directly below lake signs.

Each sign says, “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers: Clean, Drain, Dry.”

Boaters and anglers throughout the county, residents and visitors alike have the responsibility to inspect boats, trailers and equipment and remove visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels and mud.

The next step, before leaving a lake, is to drain water from boats, motors and live wells. Boat owners also are urged to perform water draining away from boat ramps. Subsequent steps include disposing of unwanted live bait and worms in the trash.

If possible, boaters should spray/wash boats, trailers and equipment with high pressure or hot water before going to other waters. Highly recommended is drying everything for at least five days.

Other tips are offered online on the Otter Tail County website, by accessing information from the Land and Resource Department. Many lake accesses also have invasives information posted.

County Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar has brought together a diverse group of organizations and individuals from throughout the county who are concerned about the spread of invasives. They comprise the AIS Task Force. Also working closely with the task force is Land and Resource employee Marsha Bowman.

“We work out details for a public awareness effort,” said Kalar, “and the task force also coordinates efforts with the county board of commissioners.”

The county board has supported the task force and has provided funding resources to help provide boat inspections at some of the public accesses at area lakes – a daunting task, since Otter Tail County has 134 public accesses.

“There’s a need for documentation of where boats have been and where they are going,” said county board member Lee Rogness.

The county board and task force are in agreement to try and work closely with area lake associations in efforts to control the spread of invasive species. Taking a lead, in coordination with the task force, is the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations.

“Long-term, we need to work with other counties on the invasives challenge,” said county board member John Lindquist.

Tom Hintgen, Otter Tail County Correspondent