Rusty crayfish invade northwestern Lake CountyAdd rusty crayfish to the list. The Lake County Board of Commissioners is considering a request from the White Iron Chain of Lakes Association (WICOLA) in Ely to help pay for traps to slow the spread of rusty crayfish, an invasive species.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
Add rusty crayfish to the list.
The Lake County Board of Commissioners is considering a request from the White Iron Chain of Lakes Association (WICOLA) in Ely to help pay for traps to slow the spread of rusty crayfish, an invasive species.
Rusty crayfish have joined zebra mussels, Asian carp and sea lamprey as high-profile invasive species in Minnesota lakes. Gypsy moths have also raised concerns in the county recently, resulting in a proposed quarantine of Lake County wood that will likely go into effect next year.
WICOLA claims that rusty crayfish wreak havoc on the natural ecosystem in northern Minnesota lakes by devouring aquatic vegetation, pushing out native crayfish and competing with game fish for prey. WICOLA expressed worry in a letter to the board that rusty crayfish could negatively affect the recreational fishing industry in the region.
The crayfish, which spread quickly when they are used as bait, have not yet entered the Boundary Waters, and WICOLA wants to keep it that way. To that end, they are purchasing traps to be offered to lake property owners. If nothing is done, WICOLA predicts that the crayfish will enter the BWCA by next year.
The traps will cost about $2,000, and WICOLA is asking the county to cover the cost. Commissioner Brad Jones said he wanted to know why the Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Invasive Species division is not involved in the project.
“I would like to know that the DNR invasive species (division) has seen the same request and said ‘no’ and justified why,” Jones said at Tuesday’s board meeting. “It’s concerning.”
Commissioner Rick Goutermont expressed concern that paying for the project would set a precedent, resulting in the expectation that the county would shell out dollars for invasive species control in the future. Commissioner Paul Bergman echoed his concern, saying the costs would be steep.
“That would be the most expensive thing this county has ever done,” Bergman said.
Administrator Matt Huddleston said he would talk to WICOLA and the DNR to get the answer to Jones’ question. The board will not vote on the WICOLA proposal until its next action meeting May 28.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, the board approved a number of resolutions to move forward with its broadband project. Commissioners also approved the 2012-13 contract with the county’s human services employees.
At the board’s agenda meeting last week, they heard from a labor management committee made up of representatives from a number of county departments. The committee has spent the last nine months exploring health insurance options. They recommended that the board hire a third party to evaluate and ensure that the county is getting the best deal for its health insurance dollar. The board agreed to review the proposal and make a decision in the near future.
The board also considered a memorial for Lee Roy Jacobson, a county employee killed in a workplace accident at the end of April. At the agenda meeting, County Engineer Al Goodman brought up the idea and the commissioners were supportive. It would likely be placed at the scene of the accident in which Jacobson died, where the East branch of Beaver River crosses County Road 5.
“It’s a horrible but beautiful place,” Goodman said.