LAKE VERMILION— A number of local organizations, including the Vermilion Lake Association, will receive grant dollars to continue the fight against aquatic invasive species as a result of …
LAKE VERMILION— A number of local organizations, including the Vermilion Lake Association, will receive grant dollars to continue the fight against aquatic invasive species as a result of action this week by the St. Louis County Board.
The county approved a total of $654,530 in grants, made possible from a funding allocation from the Minnesota Legislature.
The North St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District received the largest grant among the eight organizations that received funds this week. The district will receive $398,600 to continue to manage watercraft inspections, decontamination, and public education on a dozen major lakes in the county, including Bear Island, Burntside, Crane, Kabetogama, One Pine, Pelican, Shagawa, and Vermilion.
The board approved a separate allocation of $42,191 to the Vermilion Lake Association to further the association’s AIS efforts on Vermilion. In addition to watercraft inspections, cleaning, and education, the VLA also engages in habitat evaluation and threat assessments as well as early detection and response.
VLA president Pat Michaelson said the financial backing from St. Louis County makes the association’s work possible. “We cannot do this without their generous support,” he said.
Jeff Lovgren, who coordinates the VLA’s AIS prevention efforts noted that the work is ongoing and substantial. “The AIS challenge at Lake Vermilion is very large,” said Lovgren. “About 16,000 boats launch at Vermilion’s 40 public and private accesses each year. With serious threats like Eurasian watermilfoil, starry stonewort, and zebra mussels expanding in Minnesota lakes, we must do all we can to protect Lake Vermilion, its fisheries, its recreational boating, its property owners, and its business community.”
This year, Lovgren said, increasing the number of inspections at Lake Vermilion resorts will be a key project for the association. “Our resorts attract many visitors from out of state and from regions in Minnesota with AIS infestations which could threaten our lake,” he said.
Countering this growing AIS threat takes an army of volunteers and significant funding. “Our AIS volunteers will donate over 1,500 hours in 2021,” said Michaelson, who organizes VLA’s volunteer team. “Their efforts allow us to stretch our funding much farther.”
The Burntside Lake Association will also receive extra dollars, totaling $19,125, for their ongoing AIS efforts, which will build upon the work already underway by the soil and water conservation district.
Other AIS funding awarded by the county board this week includes:
$98,000 to Wildlife Forever for marketing their Clean Drain Dry initiative aimed at public awareness and education.
$30,000 to Canosia Township for boat inspections and public education on Pike and Caribou lakes.
$24,450 to the University of Minnesota Sea Grant for a pilot project to install CD3 hub stations at four public water accesses near Duluth. The stations will allow boaters to self-inspect their own boats.
“Strong partnerships make this difficult and complex task possible,” continued Michaelson. “We are pleased with the close working relationship that has developed among our lake association, the Lake Vermilion Resort Association, North St Louis Soil and Water Conservation District, the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, and the business community around Lake Vermilion.”
Additional information about the Lake Vermilion 2021 AIS program can be found at the VLA website www.VermilionLakeAssociation.org under the “AIS Prevention” tab. If you’d like to join the VLA volunteer team, please contact Pat Michaelson, firstname.lastname@example.org.