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Cass County Board: County to add days of AIS inspections

BACKUS--Cass County will inspect boats for aquatic invasive species on 75 days in the county in 2016, up from 72 days in 2015. Rima Smith-Keprios, county AIS coordinator, and Environmental Services Director John Ringle told the county board Tuesd...

BACKUS-Cass County will inspect boats for aquatic invasive species on 75 days in the county in 2016, up from 72 days in 2015.

Rima Smith-Keprios, county AIS coordinator, and Environmental Services Director John Ringle told the county board Tuesday inspectors found 230 boaters had failed to remove drain plugs when transporting their boats between lakes in 2015. That represents a 2.4 percent violation rate, but is less than the 4 percent statewide violation rate.

State certified inspectors found weeds on boats arriving at boat landings 135 times throughout the season for a 1.4 percent violation rate.

The inspectors checked 16,917 boats on 42 Cass lakes during 2015.

The largest numbers of inspections were done at public landings on Leech, Ten Mile, Birch, Woman, Gull, Roosevelt, Pleasant, Boy, Sylvan and Pine Mountain lakes.

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With the year now complete, Smith-Keprios reported, there were no new invasive species infestations found in any Cass County lakes during 2015.

Tuesday, the county board approved a 2016 Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention and Management program, which will be paid by Cass's share of a state AIS prevention program.

The Cass program will continue boat inspections using state trained inspectors hired by an outside agency to check boats for compliance with state laws and to verify boats, tackle, trailers and boat lifts are AIS-free when moved between lakes.

It also will pay to hire sheriff's deputies to do some inspections. It will pay for inspector training classes, public education about AIS prevention, testing some lakes for zebra mussels and to decontaminate boats inspectors find infested.

Cass has one public decontamination service in Crooked Lake Township and hopes to open another at Federal Dam this summer. There is one service at Gull Dam in Crow Wing County and several owned by businesses in central Cass. Businesses generally charge a fee.

The county program also partners with local lake associations to share special project costs. The total $510,000 2016 county AIS budget also covers the $53,800 AIS coordinator's salary and benefits, a Purple Loosestrife control project with Leech Lake Band and Dr. Pat Welle of Bemidji State University's AIS resort participation study.

Related Topics: CASS COUNTY BOARD
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