Zebra Mussels Overrun Minnetonka

Zebra Mussels Over-Running Lake Minnetonka This Summer

Last year summer was the first time that zebra mussels were found in Lake Minnetonka when just a few veligers, the planktonic larva of zebra mussels and small clusters of the invasive mussel were discovered in Wayzata Bay.  By fall zebra mussels had spread across much of the eastern half of Lake Minnetonka.

This summer researchers are finding them in alarming densities.  The lake is literally being over -run.

zebra-mussels2

A one month accumulation of zebra mussels taken from Lake Minnetonka .

Local residents and lake associations are the first line of defense.  In an effort to empower more people in the fight to stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), MSRPO is offering a training course in inspection and decontamination at their Annual Meeting on Wednesday, October 19 starting at 4:00 p.m. at the Golden Valley VFW.  Lake associations and other groups are encouraged to send those interested in becoming certified so that they can take a more proactive stance against AIS.

Training for AIS Inspection/Decontamination Certification during the 2011 MSRPO Annual Meeting, Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at the Golden Valley VFW

4:00-6:00 p.m. Aquatic Invasive Species inspection/decontamination certification
5:00 p.m.  Doors open for cocktails and silent auction
6:00 p.m.  Appetizers served
7:00 p.m.  Surprise Guest Speaker TBA
7:30 p.m.  Raffle and Business Meeting

Participants will be empowered with the knowledge and skills to educate those entering  and leaving the lakes they love about AIS prevention and will be taught how they can protect their lake from becoming infested.  They will be able to identify when a risky and/or illegal situation may be occurring and will be taught how to deal with those situations accordingly.

Training will include about an hour of "classroom" time and then  will move out to the parking lot for hands-on work on an actual boat with a state of the art portable decontamination station.  The entire class is expected to take less than 2 hours.

The class is free to MSRPO members.  Please call the office to let us know if you will be attending so we can have enough materials on hand for everyone - 1-952-854-1317 .

In spring the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) launched a three-year study by placing two monitoring devices like the one pictured above at each of 32 sites from Gray's Bay to Halsted Bay. During its first monthly check of the devices in late June, the District found zebra mussels at 24 locations.

"It's no surprise the zebra mussel infestation is spreading west across the lake," said MCWD Water Quality Technician Kelly Dooley. "This invasive species is known for its rapid growth and we're committed to doing everything we can to prevent its spread to other waters, but we need the public's help. We all need to do our part to save the summers we love at local lakes and streams by stopping the spread of zebra mussels."

Legislation passed last session requires boaters to Clean, Drain and Dry their boats after leaving Minnetonka and before launching in another lake or river.

The three-year MCWD study will document the extent of the zebra mussel infestation and give scientists baseline information to help them better understand and manage the spread of this invasive species. Left unmanaged, zebra mussels will continue to spread, littering beaches with their sharp shells, severely impacting fisheries, damaging boats and equipment, and destroying the health of local lakes, rivers and streams.

Last session MSRPO worked hard to pass laws that have helped slow the spread of AIS in other states, and worked to secure funding to set up a comprehensive statewide program.  "Implementation this summer has been slow to get going," said MSRPO Executive Director Jeff Forester.  "Given the data and pictures from the MCWD, it is clear that zebra mussels do not care about government shutdowns."  In lieu of a statewide effort, local lake associations, COLAs, and watershed districts have been left to try to protect the waters in their care, creating a patchwork quilt of efforts.  "Even once a comprehensive plan is up and running, it is going to be critical that local organizations get involved.  That is why AIS inspection and decontamination certification is so important," said Forester.

The monitoring effort on Lake Minnetonka comes amid a public awareness campaign the MCWD launched this summer in partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The "Save Our Summers" campaign reminds people to clean, drain and dry their boats and equipment before entering new water to prevent the spread of zebra mussels. For more information, visit the "Save Our Summers" page at www.minnehahacreek.org .

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District covers approximately 181 square miles, including Minnehaha Creek, Lake Minnetonka, the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and Minnehaha Falls. The District is charged by state law to protect, improve and manage water resources.
It does so through scientific research and monitoring, public education, cost-share grant programs, permitting and collaborative efforts with the 27 cities, two townships and two counties (Hennepin and Carver) that are in the District. For more information, visit
www.minnehahacreek.org .

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