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County will have 24 watercraft inspectors for summer 2018

Otter Tail County is fighting Aquatic Invasive Species. Courtesy photo.

County Land and Resources Director Bill Kalar told county commissioners on March 27 that 24 watercraft inspectors have been hired to work at county lake accesses during the summer of 2018.

"Nine of these hires are returning from summer 2017, and 15 people will be new as watercraft inspectors," Kalar said.

The 24 summer workers will work directly with Spencer McGrew, Otter Tail County's Aquatic Invasive Species task force specialist.

Before leaving a lake, fishermen are required to drain water from boats, motors and livewells. Boat owners also are urged to perform water draining away from boat ramps.

Two of the main enemies are zebra mussels, which attach themselves to boats and starry stonewort which grows into dense mats than can cover surfaces of shallow water.

"We can't do it alone, and rely on support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)," says Kalar

County commissioners say they welcome visitors during the summer months. At the same time, all five commissioners want to drive home the point that summer visitors make sure their boats are clean and free of invasive species.

"That's where our summer watercraft inspectors come into the picture," Kalar said.

Role of the AIS Task Force

The task force is looking to expand its effort with decontamination of boats, motors, trailers and other water-related equipment. The AIS Task Force, with approval of the county board, has expanded decontamination from one station to three stations. This is done on a rotating basis among the 134 public lake accesses.

State funding has been available to help Otter Tail County in its efforts to control Aquatic Invasive Species.

County commissioners and the AIS Task Force also seek the support of lake associations and other organizations in the fight against zebra mussels, starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species.