Crews are celebrating an initial success story in one west metro lake after preliminary results showed that zebra mussels were killed off with a copper-based pesticide.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District announced the results on Lake Minnewashta last week after using the copper product, EarthTec QZ, to kill off the tiny mussels in 29 acres of the lake. It’s only the third west metro lake to use the product and it’s the largest open-water treatment in Minnesota.

“These results are encouraging,” Eric Fieldseth, the aquatic invasive species program manager, said in a printed statement.

In August, 14 invasive mussels were discovered in the lake near its boat launch. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, the Lake Minnewashta Preservation Association and Carver County partnered on the $40,000 project and have now reopened the boat launch after closing the area for treatment.

The same copper product, along with two other chemicals, successfully killed off zebra mussels on nearby Christmas Lake, but more mussels were later found outside the treatment area, which was about three times smaller than Minnewashta’s treatment area.

Now, the watershed district says the success stories will give them lessons for how to respond to other lakes’ infestations. The fingernail-sized pest clings to boat hulls and docks, alters ecosystems and poses a hazard for swimmers.



Bottineau Line budget set

Environmental work on the $1.54 billion Bottineau Blue Line was officially completed last week when the Metropolitan Council approved the LRT project’s final scope and budget.

The line will connect downtown Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park, traveling through Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and Crystal along the way.

On Sept. 19, the Federal Transit Administration issued a record of decision on the final environmental review, another important step in the project’s development. The project is now primed for a year of engineering work to refine its design. Passenger service is expected to begin in 2021, with nearly 27,000 weekday boardings anticipated in 2040.

The Met Council will be seeking the state’s 10-percent share of the project, about $150 million, during the 2017 legislative session. The Met Council will be seeking to increase metro-area transit sales taxes to help pay for the project.



Historic Courthouse will not close, board says

Having declared a moratorium on the wedding business, Washington County commissioners last week reaffirmed their commitment to preserve Historic Courthouse in Stillwater.

“Historic Courthouse is a jewel in Washington County’s history and community life,” said Gary Kriesel, and other commissioners agreed.

The county’s park staff oversees the courthouse, which opened in 1870 and was the seat of county business for more than a century. The building features historical exhibits and community events, but weddings and other private celebrations have dominated its use. Use as a wedding venue doubled to 113 from 2011-2015, but this summer damage was found and it was deemed ill-suited for rentals, particularly receptions.

The county will honor any bookings made for 2016 and 2017. Meanwhile, parks staff will continue to research how Historic Courthouse fits into the wedding market in the St. Croix Valley. The County Board expects to set a new direction for Historic Courthouse next summer.

Kevin Giles

Scott County

State grant sought to offer housing for mentally ill

Scott County is pursuing a new grant that would help find and maintain housing for adults with severe mental illness.

The county is seeking $135,000 in state funding to hire a full-time staffer who would start an 18-month term in January. The staffer would assist adults with severe mental illness as part of a new initiative by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The grant includes the opportunity for an extension of up to three years.