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Lake County joins fight against aquatic invasive species

A crew from Shelton Excavating installs protective posts near a boat cleaning station at the Pike Lake boat landing in 2017. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Under cloak of darkness, in search of the elusive walleye, at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 12, Gov. Mark Dayton will cast his line and officially proclaim "Clean Drain Dry Day," signaling the start to the 2018 Minnesota fishing opener.

With more than 1.6 million anglers hitting the waters, the opener is a good opportunity to educate anglers on the importance of invasive species prevention. Many partners have united under a common theme of "Clean Drain Dry" to ensure clean waters, open access and a vibrant outdoor economy.

Sonja Smerud of the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District's aquatic invasive species program recognizes Minnesota communities rely on healthy natural resources and citizens engaged in the fight against invasive species (AIS).

"By presenting the 'Clean Drain Dry' proclamation at the 2018 Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener, we are all reminded to take action and become part of the solution for protecting our lakes, rivers and streams," Smerud said.

Working with partners across the state, Wildlife Forever coordinates community-based outreach, marketing and educational resources to slow the spread of invasive species.

"'Clean Drain Dry' unites all Minnesotans," said Pat Conzemius, executive vice president of Wildlife Forever. "Together, we are making a difference. More than 95 percent of the public comply with state AIS laws. That's incredible and proof that what we're doing is working to keep our lakes and streams healthy. We are grateful for Lake County SWCD working to educate the importance of AIS prevention."

Lake County used "Clean Drain Dry" messaging during the 2017 boating season through print ads, presentations in the classroom and the start of a summer youth education program, "Water Watchers," with Lake County 4-H Extension.

Lake County's AIS program also conducted 687 watercraft inspections at 13 public water accesses in 2017. Of watercraft inspected, most were fishing boats, and all were brought into compliance with state AIS laws on-site. No violations were issued.

Lake County SWCD will continue watercraft inspections, outreach, monitoring and management throughout the 2018 season.

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