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Invasive Species

Aquatic Invasive Species

The Lake County AIS Program is guided by the AIS Prevention Plan . The AIS Plan was created in 2015 and went through a comprehensive update in 2018. Appendices (with infestation data) are updated annually. Five key priorities guide AIS programming, as outlined in the Plan:

  1. Outreach and Education
  2. Early Detection and Monitoring
  3. Watercraft Inspections and Compliance
  4. Management and Rapid Response
  5. Partnerships and Resources

For an overview of our program – check out this interactive story about the Lake County AIS Program!  

Appendix A (February 2020)
Appendix B (February 2020)

Lake County AIS Grant
The Lake County AIS Grant Program closed on March 20th, 2020. A 2021 Request for Proposals and application period will open in December of this year. Lake County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Grants are distributed annually to local organizations and individuals addressing outlined goals in the Lake County AIS Plan.

Program Oversight
The Lake County Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, housed at Lake SWCD, oversees the AIS program. Please contact our office with questions about AIS Grants, monitoring, watercraft inspections, or other AIS concerns at (218) 834-8370.
The Lake County AIS Committee oversees and recommends to their respective Boards for approval AIS grant applications and programming components. 

Annual Reports
2019 AIS Metrics Annual Report
2018 AIS Metrics Annual Report
2017 AIS Metrics Annual Report 

AIS Sentry Program
Public outreach campaigns from Minnesota SeaGrant and the Minnesota DNR, in addition to statewide requirements for watercraft cleaning and inspections, have led to a high degree of public awareness about AIS. However, it is difficult to reach every user of Minnesota’s valuable lakes and mistakes and/or oversights still occur. There is still a need for public education and monitoring of inland water bodies in the Lake Superior and Rainy River basins to prevent the spread of AIS.

Lake County SWCD aims to narrow this gap by training and cultivating a network of citizen monitors. The AIS Sentry Guide is intended to be a resource to educate and empower community members to recognize and report suspicious sightings from across Northeastern Minnesota to prevent & limit the spread of AIS in our waters. Early detection of new incidents of AIS is critical to successful management. By catching new populations before they have had a chance to establish and spread into other parts of a water body, the chances of eradication are much higher, reducing or eliminating the impact on the ecosystem. The larger the established population of AIS, the more difficult and expensive it will be to manage long-term. This guide is best used as a supplement to in-person, hands-on training. For training opportunities near you, contact our office to request more information.

When utilized over an extended period of time, this guide can assist concerned citizens in not only in spotting AIS, but also in noting more subtle changes to their favorite bodies of water. Changes in water quality such as increased algae blooms, changes in turbidity (how clear or cloudy the water is), or decreases in plant community diversity can all be signs that something is impacting the ecosystem. These disruptions of the ecosystem can make a water body more vulnerable to AIS.

Your help monitoring local waterbodies is key to mitigating the impact of AIS on Northeastern Minnesota.

Terrestrial Invasive Species

Terrestrial invasives are plants that are not native to an area and have a tendency to out-compete more desirable native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. 

Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District (Lake County SWCD) oversees terrestrial invasive species management within Lake County through grants in association with a Cooperative Weed Management Area for Lake County, a grant and project with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the U.S.F.S., and cooperation with the Lake County Invasives Team (LCIT), which includes MNDOT, the USFS, MNDNR Forestry and Parks and Trails, Lake County Forestry and Highway Departments, Lake County SWCD, 1854 Treaty Authority, and participation from some local organizations, including Wolf Ridge, Sugarloaf, and others. 

Through a service agreement with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Lake County also has funding and technical assistance available for landowners (especially large lots) managing their land for forest resources. 

Lake SWCD recently started a rental program for buckthorn management equipment and other associated terrestrial invasive species equipment. Please contact or (218) 834-8513 for more information on this program or terrestrial invasive species programming. 

More information about terrestrial invasive species in the Northern Minnesota Region: 

Japanese barberry is a newcomer to the Northland, and one of the worst that we could get. This thorny shrub spreads aggressively and completely takes over areas when left untreated. A large patch was recently identified by Lake County SWCD on the bike trail north of Super One, and last week SWCD staff began the long process of managing the plant. This involves hand-digging and pulling, as well as the use of a 400,000 BTU propane torch to burn the base of the plant. This species is not fire-tolerant, so burning the growth points at the base of the plant can be an effective means of control. More information will soon be available to Lake County residents regarding the importance of reporting and controlling Japanese barberry infestations.

Lake County SWCD staff has been working on Lighthouse Point and in Memorial Park, removing isolated patches of tansy along the paved bike trail, and replacing these patches with plugs of aggressive native species such as bee balm, small white aster, cup plant, and Maximillian sunflower. Large patches of Japanese Knotweed along Park Road are also being cut down, and will be treated later in the summer. “Memorial Park, Lighthouse Point, and the trails that run through those areas are such assets to the City.  Lake County SWCD feels it is worth being pro-active in controlling the invasive plants that are there before they take over the space,” said Dan Schutte, former Lake County SWCD District Manager. “Folks in central and southern parts of Minnesota have completely lost the battle against these invasive species. Once they are established, there is really no going back to the diverse natural environment without spending enormous amounts of time, energy, and money.” That means that all of the birds, butterflies, and other animals that used to live in the area and use the native plants and trees would be gone, with little incentive to return. Buckthorn, honeysuckle, and reed canary grass are other aggressive invasive species found in the Lighthouse Point area. Lake County SWCD will continue efforts to manage invasive species at these sites throughout the summer, and is always looking for community members interested with helping inventory or control terrestrial invasive species in our area.