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Cass SWCD to receive $5,000 grant

WALKER — Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has obtained a $5,000 grant from Minnesota DNR and has pledge $5,000 in SWCD funds to begin implementing the county’s aquatic invasive species plan.

The county adopted that plan Nov. 5, 2013. SWCD has been charged with carrying out the plan to combat the spread of invasive species into lakes in the county.

Tuesday, the county board voted to spend up to $5,000 to match any funds townships or lake associations contribute toward implementing the plan.

So far Ten Mile and Leech Lake Associations have pledged contributions, according to Environmental Services Director (ESD) John Ringle. Funds collected would be used for education on the issue and to begin or expand lake access inspections, Ringle said, depending upon the amount of dollars raised.

Commissioner Jim Dowson said the county needs to find a way to have visitors help pay for this. He suggested Minnesota DNR should have a statewide program.

Reno Wells, Cass County township association president, said townships may be reluctant to share costs for fighting invasive species, because some town officers feel this problem is coming from people who live elsewhere and bring invasive species here.

ESD sent a letter Tuesday to townships asking them to consider, at their annual meetings March 11, allocating $500 or more each to help implement the county’s invasive species plan.

The board discussed a New York Times article about research being done at a New York state Museum on using a bacterium to kill zebra mussels without harming other species. The next phase will be to test the bacterium’s effectiveness in open water rather than just a laboratory.

Laboratory tests had a 90 percent success rate in killing zebra mussels without harming fresh water mussels, according to the Times article.

Cass commissioners discussed and indicated support for state legislation to require a 10 cent deposit on beverage containers, which would be refunded when people recycle those bottles. They did not vote any formal endorsement, however.

Ringle said it appears so far this session that such a bill has been written, but as yet has no legislative authors willing to enter it for formal discussion in committee or on the legislative floor.

Currently, Cass has about a 40 percent recycle rate. Where the deposit/refund program has been implemented elsewhere, the recycle rate is about 90 percent, Ringle said.