Who should pick up the tab in the fight against zebra mussels?

A rock with zebra mussels attached was found by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District during a sampling in Minnehaha Creek in this file photo from July 2012. (Courtesy of Minnehaha Creek Watershed District)

“Vigilance is crucial in fighting invasive zebra mussels. The tougher question of who should pay for that vigilance is up for debate. Officials and private groups in Becker County want the state to spend more, but they aren’t waiting for that to happen,” writes MPR News reporter Dan Gunderson.

In Becker County, where officials are planning to set up boat decontamination stations next summer and get more involved in enforcement of invasive species laws, said Steve Skoog, the county’s environmental services director.

The next threat is sure to come, he added, so officials are “trying to bring together different levels of government, from townships and cities, county, lake shore associations and try to figure out how much outreach we need, how much enforcement we need and who funds it.”

The money will have to come from government and private funds — perhaps user fees to pay for boat decontamination, he added.

The DNR has an $8 million budget to fight aquatic invasive species. Local groups spend a similar amount. People attending citizen forums on environmental issues late last year ranked aquatic invasive species second among all water related concerns. But there’s not enough support to push for additional state money, said Tara Guetter, administrator of the Pelican River Watershed District.

  • Hamliner

    Might as well try to keep the morning sun from lighting the land. Inevitable. Admit throwing money at the issue will FEEL better than it will work. It is impressive that people are mobilizing, but open ended state spending is not the answer. Tell us what is an appropriate level of spending from the state, feds, and lakeshore owners.

  • Jim G

    The zebra mussels are coming to a Minnesota lake near you. It is a serous problem. It requires serious resources and efforts to control them. All stake holders need to contribute to the efforts to control invasive species. With zebra mussels, the boat users who travel from infected waters to other lakes are the common vectors of transmission. I would propose a dual class license. One for boats that stay on one body of water and another more costly license for boats moving to and from different lakes. I would also seriously consider permanently marking any immersible appliance: boats, docks, boat lifts, trailers, motors, pumps, fish traps, decoys, etc. that are used in infected waters, making them easy to spot as illegal for use in non infected areas.

    Lake associations will need to step forward and coordinate boat screenings and cleaning. Also, taxpayers have a responsibility to fund protection efforts in this land of over 15,000 lakes. Everyone, from the duck hunter who leaves the landing at 4:00 in the morning, the pleasure cruiser, to the lake cabin owner who puts in a dock will need to be educated on the means of transmission and the remedies that they personally must follow to protect their sport and our water resources from being forever changed. These efforts will hopefully slow the rate of spread. and perhaps science will provide solutions that will mitigate the effects of invasive species on our lake cultures and environments.

  • PaulJ

    70% General fund (reduced by what ever we can get from the Feds or Corp largess) 20% Excise 10% fines

  • david

    The shipping companies and ship builders that caused this mess should be paying to clean it up.

  • Jeff

    Who pays to make sure pheasants don’t invade the countryside? Oh that’s right, we accept that invasive species without a second thought…meanwhile we freak out about zebra mussels (which also happen to make water a bit clearer). I’m sorry, but this isn’t something we need to worry about all that much.

    • kevins

      I’m not sure I get your post, especially the part about the water, but I am sure I like pheasants. Zebra mussels..well I’ve never tried them. Do you baste with garlic butter?

      • david

        Zebra mussles are a proven pain in the ass to hydroelectric plants, water supply plants, etc. Pheasants while seeming benign are actually considered the major factor, after loss of habitat, in the decline of the indigous prairie chicken. Shame, the prairie chicken is a much more elegant bird.

        • Jeff

          Sure, lots of things are a pain to hydroelectric plants…I suppose you prove my point about pheasants, they do have an impact on local prairie chickens and yet we don’t really have a massive campaign against them or even try to eliminate them completely (i.e. the DNR gets concerned about low pheasant populations).

      • Jeff

        Ah, well the actual zebra mussels are too small for people to eat but many other species do eat zebra mussels. You weren’t aware that zebra mussels consume algae? That makes the water clearer in most lakes where they reside. BTW, I do enjoy clams and mussels…and I would most likely eat zebra mussels if they grew just a bit larger.

  • Vern Wagner

    Rather then asking who should pay for it, a better question might be about the feasibility of spending dollars on some of the suggested approaches. Do we want every lake in Minnesota quarantined and every watercraft sanitized prior to launching; despite the costs and limitations to access this might create? Should we just rely on educating boaters to do their part and keep trying to pounding the message into them? Should we spend 8 million on this? 25 million? Why not 50 million? Personally I’m not willing to give the checkbook to folks who talk about protecting ‘thier” lake in one breath and lakeshore property values in another. No sane person wants to see one more lake in Minnesota infested with Zebra Mussels but pricey over-reaching solutions need closer inspection not more funding. We are now seeing hired lobbyists selling magic AIS beans submitting grant and funding proposals. Will throwing more money at this problem be effective?

  • JQP

    there is no corrective action that eliminates the Zebra mussels from a lake and re-infestation is inevitable…. so there is some question about what it is that we should consider paying for. removal or mitigation of public structures … like intake pipes, control structures, dames, weirs, etc.