County will accept funds to fight aquatic invasive species

The Washington County Board of Commissioners accepted $202,392 Dec. 9 from the state Department of Natural Resources to aid in the prevention of the spread of aquatic invasive species in lakes, rivers, and other water bodies.

In the 2014 Legislative session, a new aid program was created to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species called the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Aid, with the emphasis on prevention and education. The program provides funding to counties based on the number of watercraft trailer launches and parking spaces within each county. Washington County has 22 watercraft trailer launches with 350 parking spaces. Based on those numbers, the county received $62,811 in 2014 and will receive $139,581 in 2015. As part of the program, the county must establish guidelines for the use of the funds.

County staff met with stakeholders from lakeshore associations, watershed districts, the Department of Natural Resources, and the St. Croix River Association during the last half of 2014 to review current efforts to control and prevent the spread of aquatic species and to get feedback on the most efficient and effective uses for the county aid funds.

Aquatic invasive species found in Washington County include Eurasian watermilfoil, flowering rush, zebra mussels, invasive carp, and curly leaf pondweed.

Based on County Board and public input, the county intends to run a competitive grant process to award funds to entities focusing on prevention projects. The grant application process will occur in spring 2015 to disburse the 2014 and 2015 funds.

The county does not intend to commit any county funds for any on-going projects through the grant process, and no grant applications will be approved that commit the county to provide any funding above the amount of state aid funds available.

 

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