Aquatic Invasive Species
In 2014, the State of Minnesota passed a tax bill that provides funding for aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention. This funding provided $10 million to counties each year to prevent the introduction and limit the spread of aquatic invasive species. The funds are allocated based on each county's share of watercraft trailer launches and each county's share of watercraft trailer parking spaces.
Itasca County received $572,784 for state fiscal year 2017 and $621,124 for state fiscal year 2018.
The Itasca County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program Plan for SFY 2017 was approved by the Itasca County Commissioners in 2016. The Itasca AIS Plan was drafted by the Itasca County Aquatic Invasive Species Technical Advisory Committee (AIS Tech Committee). The AIS Tech Committee is composed of the Itasca AIS Coordinator and up to two representatives from the following agencies/entities:
US Forest Service – Chippewa National Forest
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
University of Minnesota Extension
Itasca County Itasca Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
Itasca Coalition of Lake Associations (ICOLA)
Itasca Water Legacy Partnership (IWLP)
The AIS Tech Committee recommended a cooperative Aquatic Invasive Species Program (AISP) that utilizes the expertise and abilities of existing agencies, organizations and entities in accomplishing AIS priorities identified by the AIS Tech Committee and Itasca County stakeholders. Six “priority areas” are each managed by a lead agency or organization that is responsible for accomplishing the AIS priorities specific to that priority area and managing the funding allocated to that priority area The six Priority Areas, their lead agency/organization and their individual priorities are as follows:
Prevention: lead organization – AIS Coordinator and Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD); priorities include AIS watercraft inspection and decontamination program, enforcement, education, public landing infrastructure improvements, partnerships (anglers, fishing guides, bait shops, hunters, marine businesses, float plane operators and all other businesses)
Monitoring and Control: lead agency – ISWCD; priorities include coordinating trained SWCD AIS field crew(s) for early detection, control and monitoring of AIS in Itasca County lakes and rivers. Supplemental training and education will be provided for AIS professionals of Itasca County.
Community Action Projects: lead organization – AIS Coordinator/ICOLA; priorities include managing a small grants program that enables organizations, associations or individuals to further AIS prevention locally by means of enhancing other AISP programs or innovative projects, matching funds required to leverage AIS prevention efforts.
Awareness and Training: lead organization – AIS Coordinator/SWCD; priorities include managing public communications, mass media programs, AIS awareness at public events, printed materials, outreach to new partners or external AIS partners, AIS programs for youth, contributing website content and collateral support for other priority areas’ communication needs. Public training on AIS as well as Citizen science training for the early detection of AIS and AIS identification will be offered to citizens of Itasca County.
County: lead agency – Itasca County (Environmental Services as liaison); priorities include participating with the DNR Database, developing a county AIS website to include AIS location map, identification, reporting, calendar of events, volunteer opportunities, contact information; a reserve of unallocated funds will be maintained to provide flexibility to the AISP.