The Crow Wing County Land Services Department is requesting public comments on the proposed 2020 Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Plan.

The 2020 AIS Prevention Plan may be viewed and comments may be submitted on the county website at crowwing.us/ais. Written comments on the plan will be accepted until 5 p.m. Jan. 18 and may be submitted to Crow Wing County at landservices@crowwing.us or mailed to 322 Laurel St., Suite 15, Brainerd, MN, 56401, Attn: AIS Prevention Plan Comment.

The public is also invited to attend a 2020 AIS prevention presentation beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 3, at the Land Services Building in Brainerd. Those who attend can learn more about Crow Wing County’s AIS Prevention Plan for 2020. Topics to be highlighted include watercraft inspections, decontaminations, education and awareness, milfoil treatments and early AIS detection.

Crow Wing County was allocated $441,715 by the state of Minnesota to assist in the prevention of the spread of AIS within county lakes and rivers in 2020. The AIS Prevention Plan proposes to accomplish this through several approaches.

Crow Wing County partnered with the University of Minnesota-Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Forest Service to develop an optimized model for locating Department of Natural Resources trained watercraft inspectors on Crow Wing’s County’s public watercraft access landings. The model was developed to specifically maximize the number of inspected watercraft that move from infested to uninfested water bodies. Approximately 17,240 hours of inspections will be conducted on 42 landings in Crow Wing County in 2020.

The county plans to operate the AIS decontamination station at the Crosslake Joint Highway Maintenance Facility, open Thursdays through Mondays. The county also plans to purchase a mobile decontamination station and open it Fridays through Sundays. Both decontamination stations will be open Memorial Day weekend through the end of September, free of charge.

Watercraft decontamination consists of a very hot water rinse to kill zebra mussels, and if needed, a high-pressure spray to remove AIS from boats, motors, trailers and personal gear.

Since 2014, Crow Wing County has allocated about $35,500 directly to lake associations to conduct educational outreach campaigns to the general public. More than 30 lakes have participated.

In 2020, the county plans to again offer this program and proposes funding 18 lakes for lake association public awareness campaigns. In addition, other proposals include partnering with bait shops, printed media and other targeted advertising. Since 2014, about $175,400 was allocated to cover the costs of AIS-related education and awareness programs.

The county plans to continue to work with area lake associations and an environmental lab to conduct testing for zebra mussel veligers and for the first time, for spiny waterfleas. Also, the county will buy supplies to build zebra mussel samplers to hang off docks for lake associations that don’t have funds to afford the supplies needed to conduct zebra mussel veliger testing.

Crow Wing County has 12 lakes infested with milfoil that also have a public access. As in previous years, funds will be allocated for chemical or biological treatment of milfoil in these lakes.

In 2019, Crow Wing County allocated 16,700 watercraft inspection hours on 43 public access landings across the county. Lake associations also financially contributed to 5,104 hours of expanded coverage requests the county scheduled beyond its allocated hours.

No infestations of zebra mussels occurred on Crow Wing County lakes in 2019.