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Cass SWCD pledges funds toward county aquatic invasive species plan

The Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) obtained a $5,000 grant from the Minnesota DNR and pledged $5,000 in SWCD funds to begin implementing the county’s aquatic invasive species plan.

The county adopted that plan Nov. 5, 2013. SWCD has been charged with carrying out the plan to combat the spread of invasive species into lakes in the county.

Tuesday, March 4, the county board voted to spend up to $5,000 to match any funds townships or lake associations contribute toward implementing the plan.

So far Ten Mile and Leech Lake associations have pledged contributions, said Environmental Services Director (ESD) John Ringle. Funds collected would be used for education on the issue and to begin or expand lake access inspections, Ringle said, depending upon the amount of dollars raised.

Commissioner Jim Dowson said the county needs to find a way to have visitors help pay for this. He suggested the DNR should have a statewide program.

Reno Wells, Cass County township association president, said townships may be reluctant to share costs for fighting invasive species, because some town officers feel this problem is coming from people who live elsewhere and bring invasive species here.

ESD sent a letter March 4 to townships asking them to consider, at their annual meetings March 11, allocating $500 or more each to help implement the county’s invasive species plan.

The board discussed a New York Times article about research being done at a New York state museum on using a bacterium to kill zebra mussels without harming other species. The next phase will be to test the bacterium’s effectiveness in open water rather than just a laboratory.

Laboratory tests had a 90 percent success rate in killing zebra mussels without harming fresh water mussels, according to the Times article.