BREEZY POINT — Pelican Lakes Association of Crow Wing County has been named one of the first ever recipients of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center’s Research Partnership Award.

The award recognizes people, groups and organizations who have gone above and beyond to contribute to Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center’s mission of advancing aquatic invasive species knowledge and inspiring action to protect and restore Minnesota’s waters.

The Pelican Lakes Association of Crow Wing County is committed to preserving the quality of life and the environmental health of the Pelican Lakes through the promotion of environmental stewardship and educational programs. The association represents two lakes: Pelican Lake, the largest lake in Crow Wing County; and Little Pelican Lake, both of which are situated within the Pine River Watershed in central Minnesota.

Pelican Lakes Association actions include active monitoring programs, AIS management and prevention, coordination with other groups and agencies, and outreach to the local community.

“(Pelican Lakes Association) has been a supporter of (Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center) since our early years, as a financial and in-kind contributor, advisor, and legislative advocate,” said Nick Phelps, center director, in a news release. “In fact, the first meeting I had after becoming MAISRC director was on the shores of Pelican Lake. PLA has played an instrumental role in MAISRC’s ability to form the Zebra Mussel Research Fellowship, which is focused on developing in-lake control options for zebra mussels. Most recently, Susan Koering, president of the PLA, supported the MAISRC/USGS copper control study by providing her family beach as a study site. Other association members were actively engaged with the research team to provide local perspectives and advice.”

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The MAISRC Research and Partnership Awards were announced Sept. 22 at the center’s annual Research and Management Showcase event. Pelican Lakes Association was one of four honorees in the award’s first ever cohort.

“In 2012, when Pelican Lake was identified as infested with zebra mussels, Dr. Art Weaver was the association’s president. He had a challenge to lead our Association forward. We’ve learned to work with our partners to help manage, and hopefully control, zebra mussels along with some curly-leaf pondweed. We work with the Minnesota DNR, Crow Wing County, and the Pine River Watershed. Lake water is tested annually along with the annual checks for invasive aquatic plants. Inspectors provide weekend boat checks at our four boat landings,” Koering said during her award acceptance speech on behalf of the association.