Aquatic Invasive Species Grant Awards
The Initiative Foundation will award a total of $3.6 million to fund a limited number of pilot projects. This grant was recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) and funded by the Minnesota Legislature through the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
The following projects received grant awards:
October 2015 Grant Awards
Cass County Environmental Services
Although the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides basic training and certification for inspectors, this grant would provide additional training in conflict resolution along with basic concepts in aquatic invasive species water ecology. Online learning opportunities to share these materials with other counties may also be investigated. Approved for up to $22,212.
Crow Wing County/Mississippi Headwaters Board
The Mississippi Headwaters Board has developed several videos to appeal to younger recreationalists. User data show that the majority of this sector come from the Twin Cities, so this grant will support the placement of these videos with metro area television stations, their promotion and distribution via social media, and to assess the reach, engagement and impact of the messages being conveyed. Approved for up to $84,484.
One of the greatest barriers to compliance with required and best management practices for boaters is the inconvenience of having your boat inspected prior to launch or to have your craft decontaminated after leaving an infested area. This grant would support the management of a centralized site where recreationalists could conveniently book an inspection appointment. Promotion of this effort would include Meeker and Stearns counties. Approved for up to $59,200.
Wildlife Forever/Vermillion Lake Watershed
Wildlife Forever is a key partner in the “Stop, Drain and Dry” aquatic invasive species education campaigns. This project will use geo-fencing (pushing messages to smart phone users in a specific geographic region) to share boating best practices, decontamination or inspection service locations and other aquatic invasive species prevention resources. Users who interact with the messages will be rewarded with coupons to local businesses, fostering local support and potential sponsorship from the business community. Approved for up to $44,200.
April 2015 Grant Awards
Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District
Big Marine Lake in Washington County has about 45 total acres of open water infested with Eurasian watermilfoil. The affected areas are located near two Department of Natural Resources boat landings: the Washington County Big Marine Park Reserve landing and the Veteran's Camp landing. Herbicide treatment in the past has been limited to a single application. The herbicide application typically turns the milfoil brown and knocks it down but doesn’t totally kill the plant at the root, resulting in the need for annual treatment.
This project proposes a new treatment approach to maintain the herbicide concentration at the level required to kill milfoil without exceeding safety standards. The proposal is to treat the areas three times in one day at six-hour intervals. Approved for up to $35,000.
January 2015 Grant Awards
Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), located in northeast Minnesota, is the most visited wilderness area in the United States. The Kawishiwi Watershed comprises a large area of the southeast portion of the BWCAW. About 20 years ago, rusty crayfish were introduced into northern Minnesota lakes as fishing bait. The release of unused bait established a breeding population that has exploded, causing declines in native crayfish populations and reductions in aquatic vegetation including wild rice. If left unchecked, the reduction in aquatic vegetation will reduce game fish and water fowl habitat. Left unabated, rusty crayfish would soon populate the entire Kawishiwi Watershed, extirpating native crayfish populations.
This project will intensively trap rusty crayfish at the invasion front, reduce the potential source of re-infestation from adjacent infested locations and encourage the practice of catch and release of small mouth bass (which predate the rusty crawfish). Student interns from Vermilion Community college will be employed throughout the summer to trap rusty crayfish. According to previous results from a University of Wisconsin study, this should remove the largest most reproductively active invasive crayfish. Property owners on the White Iron Chain of Lakes, which lies adjacent to the Kawishiwi River and is heavily infested with rusty crayfish, will also trap rusty crayfish along their shorelines. Approved for up to $50,000.
Crow River Organization for Water (CROW) Joint Powers Board
The Crow River Watershed is a major tributary of the Mississippi River northwest of the Twin Cities. Agriculture is the primary land use, although rapidly growing urban expansion is creating new pressures on water recreation and water quality, including the emerging risks associated with the spread of aquatic invasive species. With more than 120 public water access sites in the three counties of Wright, Meeker and McLeod, the challenge to protect the water bodies in the project area is burgeoning.
This project would create education and outreach which targets youth (ages 10-25), including heavy use of experiential learning, social media and audio/visual mediums in an effort to internalize the importance of aquatic invasive species prevention. This effort is geared towards creating a cultural shift in the way young adults think about their role in stopping the spread. Normalizing "clean, drain, dry" activities is seen as effective outreach because this age group is beginning to utilize water-related equipment independently. Pursuing marketing and communicating strategies that are specific this age group is an effort to solidify expectations for water-craft use on public waters and establish positive behaviors. Approved for up to $50,000.
Carver County Water Management Organization
The county plans to establish a tagging system that provides outbound boaters at the Lake Minnewashta access with a "proof of inspection tag" allowing them expedited future lake access if the tag is still intact. Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council funds will be used to purchase a decontamination unit that will expand phase two of this tagging system by offering boaters the option of being decontaminated and tagged at the Lake Waconia access, which would subsequently allow them to bypass the inspection process at other county lakes if the tag is still intact. This will allow project partners to determine the feasibility of a centralized inspection system where boaters can be decontaminated, receive a tag or code, and launch at lakes participating in the program. Initially, the tags would be recognized at all access points where the county is currently providing inspection service. Approved for up to $50,000.