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.