Recently awarded state money is bringing Anoka County new muscle to fight aquatic invasive species.
The county was granted $127,125 for 2015 to tackle Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels, among other invaders in its lakes and rivers.
The money comes from a tax bill that Gov. Mark Dayton signed in May, which adds $10 million a year for county government programs to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species. Anoka county was also awarded $57,206 for last half of 2014.
The funding provides flexibility for local governments to implement prevention and education plans, said Tina Wolbers, an aquatic invasive species prevention planner for the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
The amount each county receives is based on the number of boat landings and watercraft parking spaces it has (see accompanying box).
Goals for the new year
In December, the Anoka County Board approved a resolution outlining its use of the funds — a requirement of the state program.
The rough plan includes installing traffic counters at select watercraft accesses, coordinating training for local police officers, hiring a program coordinator and coordinating authorized watercraft inspectors, and creating an early detection, rapid response and containment plan. The county also plans to install signage and washing stations at public boat launches.
“First and foremost is focusing on prevention and education, public education at all of our water access facilities,” said Jeff Perry, planning and resources manager for the county’s Parks and Recreation Department.
John VonDeLinde, the county’s parks and recreations director, said the county will hold a stakeholder meeting this month to discuss the outline and “further explore collaborative efforts to make maximum use of the state funds.”
“This isn’t something we want to pursue on our own,” he said.
The meeting will include lake improvement districts, lake associations, conservation groups, cities and townships.
VonDeLinde hopes that by the end of next year the county will have a clearer strategies and specific ideas that “will actually happen,” he said.