Volunteers logged 10,610 inspection hours last year alone

Spencer McGrew

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

The year 2023 marks year 11 for Otter Tail County’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Program. 

Among the 2022 achievements, as pointed out by County AIS Specialist Spencer McGrew, were 24 watercraft inspectors logging 10,610 inspection hours at 101 public water accesses throughout Otter Tail County.

“Decontaminations across the state have trended downward in recent years,” said McGrew to the five-person Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners. “And while we did have two new infestations of Zebra Mussels in 2022, no Otter Tail County waterbodies were designated as infested with Eurasian Watermilfoil or Starry Stonewort.”

McGrew said that the Sheriff’s Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program officers made 310 contacts with boaters and issued 32 citations for aquatic invasive species violations.

“Our AIS Program partnered with the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) to facilitate a bus tour of Lake Koronis, near Paynesville, to view the Starry Stonewort infestation there,” McGrew said. “Forty attendees took the tour including county residents, county commissioners and staff.” 

The Train the Train the Teachers to Train the Kids Program brought students from New York Mills to Fair Hills Resort in May 2022 to learn about aquatic invasive species, lake science and conservation. 

“Students were able to perform a watercraft inspection, use plant rakes and take transparency readings with a secchi disk,” McGrew said.  

The Self Service Rinse Station at Paul Miller Park at Little Pine Lake near Perham was placed into operation in May 2022. The station pumps filtered lake water to a hose reel, allowing the watercraft user to rinse and spray their equipment before and after launching. The filtration system will be revised for 2023, pending permit authorization.

Otter Tail County’s AIS Prevention Program has partnerships with 17 local governments including one township, two cities and 15 counties across the state. 

“Our Aquatic Invasive Species Program is robust and well received by the public,” McGrew said. “Otter Tail County will continue to refine its existing programing while exploring new and novel methods of Aquatic Invasive Species prevention.”