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Let's address AIS problem statewide

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I wanted to write to address the issue of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in Minnesota lakes. News continues to come out that lakes across the state are being impacted by various types of invasive species. Needless to say, for a state that takes great pride in its over 12,000 lakes, this is a very serious issue.

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Up until now, our efforts to address AIS have been mostly reactive. Once we find out a lake has Zebra Mussels or a river has Asian Carp, we start thinking of ways to address it. But dealing with this issue in such an after-the-fact manner is not going to solve the problem. If we wait until we find invasive species in a body of water before we act, then we're practically inviting these species to spread.

The impact of these species spreading across Minnesota would be enormous. Our economy depends on resorts and lake communities, and they, in turn, depend on lakes that are clean and healthy. Lakes are one of Minnesota's best assets, and that's why we need to take steps to protect them.

In this year's budget, the Legislature invested almost $9 million for the U of M to expand its Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center to help develop strategies to protect our lakes and eradicate AIS. We put $600,000 towards zebra mussel control and $540,000 towards Asian Carp control as well.

But in order for our state to fully address this issue, we need to do more. Individual lake associations are already attempting to do more at the local level. Those of us who use boats around the state can make sure we do a better job of checking our boats and trailers every time we leave and enter a lake.

Aquatic Invasive Species are a very serious issue for our state. I hope we start putting in the time, the energy, and the resources to address AIS statewide. If we don't, we might be left with lakes that we aren't so proud of.

Rep. Roger Erickson

Baudette

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