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Board hears about costs to educate boaters about AIS

Cass County Environmental Services Director John Ringle reported Tuesday, Aug. 5, the department spent $20,443 of the $22,680 lake associations contributed this year to inspect boats for aquatic invasive species (AIS) and educate people about preventing AIS spread.

The board approved a budget Aug. 5 for the $222,000 the Legislature authorized for Cass County to fight AIS.

The budget calls for spending $27,000 to contract with more trained inspectors at $14 per hour, $22,500 for enforcement, $32,000 to buy four decontamination units, $20,000 for educational efforts and $50,000 for lake association specific projects, which leaves $70,500 in a contingency fund.

Cass County is scheduled to receive more than $500,000 in 2015.

Ringle said the trained inspectors working this summer have stopped two watercraft with zebra mussels on them that were about to enter Ten Mile Lake on separate occasions. Inspectors sent the watercraft owners to a decontamination site before allowing them to launch on the lake.

Stephanie Shearen, who has been overseeing the inspection program, reported inspectors have checked 230 watercraft so far this summer and found 19 had their drain plug in rather than opened. Four had aquatic plants removed by hand. Twenty-six came to uninfested lakes from infested waters.

There are 10 trained inspectors in the county at this time. They work at 17 public landings. Any inspector can send a boater to a decontamination site.

If the boater objects, inspectors cannot enforce laws, but are instructed to call law enforcement to prevent entry to the lake until after the watercraft has been decontaminated.