Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are threatening Minnesota waters. These non-native species harm fish populations, water quality and water recreation. Lake County is working to prevent the spread of harmful AIS within waterways of the region.
Lake County has and continues to engage youth education, citizen monitoring, and public outreach in the effort to prevent further or more robust AIS infestations in the Arrowhead region.
As of March 2015, rusty crayfish, spiny water flea, zebra mussels, and curly leaf pondweed have been found in some of the lakes and rivers in Lake County. In the summer of 2016, Lake County conducted a thorough survey of lakes and public accesses in the Lake Superior watershed. No new species were discovered. Additional invasive species have been found in Lake Superior, including rainbow smelt, mystery snails, Eurasian ruffe, and viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). In the summer of 2017, Lake County is conducting a thorough survey of lakes within the Rainy River watershed (and within the County).
In addition to surveying and monitoring, Lake County conducts watercraft inspections during the summer season at public access landings, part of a state-wide effort to bring watercraft users within compliance of Minnesota regulations on the transport of aquatic invasive species. In the summer of 2017, watercraft inspections will take place at Fall Lake, along the Lake Superior corridor of Lake County including the Silver Bay Safe Harbor and Agate Bay accesses, and at scattered locations along Fernberg Road near Ely, MN. Watercraft inspectors are certified as Level I Inspectors with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Lake County’s AIS efforts are funded through a county tax bill, passed in 2014 at the Minnesota State Legislature, which provides funds for aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention. Each year, $10 million is to be provided to Minnesota counties to support AIS prevention programs. AIS efforts in the county are coordinated by Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).