Tag: zebra mussels

MN COLA announces speakers for Annual Meeting

MN COLA June 2024 Annual Meeting speakers image

What do Kathryn Hoffman (left), Dr. John Rogers (right), Jeff Forester (top), and Hilarie Sorenson (bottom) all have in common?

They are all speaking about water at the MN COLA Annual Meeting on June 18 from 9 am – 11 am CT. The meeting is guaranteed to be interesting and informative, and we hope you will attend.

Register here for the Zoom meeting.

Meeting topics and speakers:

  • Election of Directors for the MN COLA Board. Director terms are 3 years and we have several seats to fill. Note: if you have interest in joining the MN COLA Board, please contact Kevin Farum to register your interest.
  • Kathryn Hoffman, CEO of the non-profit Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), will brief us on the efforts they have underway to protect Minnesota’s public waters. MCEA’s lawyers and scientists are directly involved with environmental legislation in St. Paul and in every major legal fight to protect our water. Kathryn last joined us in December 2020 and she was very well received.
  • Jeff Forester from MN Lakes and Rivers Advocates will provide us with an update on the short 2024 Minnesota Legislative Session that ends on May 20.
  • Hilarie Sorenson is the newly appointed Water Resources Extension Educator for MN Sea Grant. She is charged with helping to address complex water quality issues through resources and programs. We offered her the opportunity to explain her new role and also to hear from you, our caring lake and river volunteers about your priorities and needs. So besides getting to know Hilarie, you can help her help us with a few polling questions during her presentation.
  • Dr. John Rodgers from Clemson University will talk to us about hydrilla, one of the most concerning AIS that has not yet reached Minnesota. He will follow the infestation spread from Florida up the east coast and now in Michigan, the impact on lakes, and what to expect. Many of you became familiar with Dr. Rodgers when starry stonewort was found in Minnesota in 2015. We are so pleased that he will spend some time with MN COLA.

As always, everyone welcome to attend, so feel free to forward this meeting information.

Inland waters need the forest!

MN COLA Home Page hero image - reduced size

MN COLA strongly believes in the need for keeping and reclaiming natural shorelines. This is especially important with the trend of turning part-time cabins into full-time homes. We have many resources on our website to make that case, but it is up to us, as shore owners to understand the impacts of making changes at the shoreline and to retain and/or reclaim the elements that favorably affect water quality.

Michigan Lakes and Streams Association logo

With the permission of Michigan Lakes and Streams Association, we are pleased to provide a link to a terrific article that highlights the important connection between forests and lakes for strong water quality, shoreline stabilization, resistance to AIS, and a strong fishery.

The science supports keeping the forest and lakes connected!

It’s AIS season. Ready, Set, Go!

Check In - Check Out - images of cover pages of boat decontamination manual and AIS identification booklet

The open water boating season is here and many of your organizations are involved with AIS inspections, inspectors, and early detection activities. Here are a couple of things you may not know about which may help.

The Lake Tahoe watercraft decontamination manual is well-organized with 91 pages of photos and great content, including nearly 30 pages of manufacturer-specific decontamination considerations.

The MAISRC AIS identification guide contains tips for identifying a number of aquatic invasive species (AIS) that are considered high-risk to Minnesota waters, as well as some common native lookalike species. You can download it for free, buy the book, or become an AIS Detector and get the book — plus tons of hands-on training!

The free Check-In, Check-Out program was designed by our friends at CD3 to educate boaters on hand cleaning different types of watercraft and trailers. Simply place the Check-In, Check-Out QR code at a visible location at your boat launch. 

AIS Infestations rising in 2023

Chart of AIS growth in MN 1995-2023-starry stonewort, zebra mussel, and EWM

Death by a thousand cuts! We can become immune to the repeated announcements of new lakes becoming infested with AIS, but we shouldn’t. The season for reporting AIS infestations is not over and we should expect the 2023 numbers will grow.

The 3 species graphed above threaten the recreational value of our public waters, and they keep growing, increasing the annual costs to keep the species under control and the lakes usable.

So far in 2023, we have 6 new infestations of starry stonewort: up from 22 since 2015. That’s a 27% increase this year alone. A troubling growth rate for a very troubling species that is still early in its infestation life cycle.

Zebra mussel infestations year to date are up 17 on a base of 582. If that low double-digit increase holds, it will have been a good year. Be aware that more infestations typically get identified as we pull out boats, docks, and lifts.

Eurasian watermilfoil only racked up 2 new infestations so far, so perhaps it’s trending down. And that’s good.

While waterbody counts may be slowing, you should be aware that most large lakes in Minnesota have 1 or more AIS, and the percentage of Minnesota’s surface water infested with AIS is very high.

Free to a good home: Specialized lake netting

Netting that was used for on Lake Koronis as part of a pilot project to control starry stonewort is available for free to a good home.

Each net is 300’ long, 6’ deep, and plastic coated. 4 nets are available: 2 nets have 3/8” holes, 2 nets have 3/16” holes. The nets have floats on the top and weights on the bottom. The nets were decontaminated and have been in storage since 2017. Other details are available.

Contact Kevin@Farnum.info if your lake association can use any of these nets for any purpose.

AIS continues to spread in Minnesota

tiny-zebra-mussels-on-the-back-of a-hand
Zebra mussels can clog water supply inputs creating problems for homeowners and municipalities

It’s still early in season for AIS detection, but zebra mussels continue their march through Minnesota. As of June 29, 11 new zebra mussel infested water bodies were added to the MN DNR’s Infested Waters List: 6 in Wright County, 2 in Otter Tail County, and 1 each in Hubbard, Kandiyohi, and Stearns Counties.

In addition to these new zebra mussel infestations, Eurasian watermilfoil was confirmed in 1 lake in Le Sueur County and starry stonewort was confirmed in 1 lake in Kandiyohi County.

Mercury rising in zebra mussel infested lakes

Clearer water from zebra mussels? Yes. Healthier water? NO! But do zebra mussels impact the fish we eat? YES!!!

In their 2022 Annual Report, the University of MN AIS Research Lab (MAISRC) reported some startling findings about “how zebra mussels influence food webs supporting walleye and yellow perch, and how food web changes influence mercury concentrations in fish tissue.”

“Mercury in fish tissue was, on average, 66% higher for adult walleye and 91% higher for adult yellow perch in lakes containing zebra mussels compared to those in uninvaded lakes.

On average, mercury concentrations in 16-inch walleye from lakes containing zebra mussels were 0.28 pm, above the 0.2 ppm threshold triggering human consumption advisories by the Minnesota Department of Health.”

This is really a significant finding, and the MN Health Department advisor should be heeded.

For more information, check out this MAISRC project online at z.umn.edu/AIS-walleye

Rare report of zebra mussel attached to lake chub

Photo: Jaclyn Hill

No, this is not news from The Onion, but a research report published in Biological Invasions on March 6, 2023. This was a rare case of a zebra mussel attached by byssal threads to the lateral scales of a 6” lake chub. In the abstract, the authors note that Charles Darwin had previously recognized the potential for this kind of animal-assisted dispersal to occur. Also of note is that in 1882 Darwin published research entitled “On the dispersal of freshwater bivalves”