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Local Residents Fight to Save Their Lakes - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Local Residents Fight to Save Their Lakes

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is ramping up enforcement surrounding aquatic invasive species because they say too many people are breaking the law. The Minnesota DNR says the boaters breaking the law are making it easier for invasive species like zebra mussels to spread into lakes and rivers.

DNR officers announced today they issued 169 tickets and 375 warnings for violations of aquatic invasive species. Officers also followed up with nearly 100 people after watercraft inspectors found boats were unknowingly carriers for zebra mussles. They also say the most common violation is people forgetting to pull their boat plug while transporting watercraft.

The Minnesota DNR will be out patrolling lakes and inspecting boats this weekend, but as Valley News Teams Ashley Bishop explains locals in Becker county are proactively fighting zebra mussels on their own.

Many lake associations are taking things in their own hands to fight the zebra mussels. About 50% of lake goers do not live at the lake and local lake residents are asking for help to educate the public.

 "We want to do more of this summer is educate our area lake people and start recognizing what a zebra muscle looks like," says Vice President of Becker County Coalition of Area Lakes Tera Guetter.

Knowing what the invasive species looks like is key when it comes time to take out docks and boats. Currently two lakes are infected in Becker county. Thursday Evening the county coalition of area lakes is discussing the purchase of a $25,000 portable de-contamination unit.

"People ask what can we do with our equipment if we took it in a infested lake...we don't really have a system in place and that is something we want to get the infrastructure in place," says Guetter.

The infestation in Lake Melissa has also put a recently repaired tram out of commission.

"The county board made a motion to close it In definitely," says Becker County Commissioner John Okeson.
 
The commissioner says prevention and education are only small steps to stopping the spread.

"It's not if, it is when we get infected. Each year more lakes get added to the list," says Okeson.

The DNR says currently no zebra muscles have infested into lake Sallie, but come August Detroit Lakes, Muskrat and Sallie will be re-inspected.

This saturday the DNR in Becker county is offering a course for those who want to volunteer and help check boats for invasive species.
Training for AIS Volunteer/Ambassadors is scheduled for Saturday, July 12, 2014 at 10:00 am. Training will be held in the first floor Commissioner's Board Room and the County asks people to use the south entrance of the courthouse.

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