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Region's water resource to be topic of forum

Long-term water resources management in the region will be discussed Friday at a forum in Walker.

Representatives of lake and watershed associations, as well as local officials and state legislators from both rural and metro Minnesota have been invited, says Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker.

The forum, with the public asked to participate, is 1:30-4 p.m. at Northern Lights Casino south of Walker.

Topics for discussion include invasive species, shoreland management, septic compliance and land conservation, says Howes.

"The topics we'll address are very important to our local citizens and businesses alike," Howes said in an e-mail to constituents. "They also tie in nicely with my position on the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, which makes funding recommendations to the Legislature for projects that maintain and enhance Minnesota's outdoors."

Howes earlier this year was named vice chairman of the panel which since 1963 has allocated more than $600 million to more than 1,250 projects recommended by the commission to protect and enhance Minnesota's environment and natural resources.

A growing topic is that of invasive species, which can affect lake quality and natural wildlife.

The state Department of Natural Resources, in its latest discovery, said that Eurasian watermilfoil was found in Chub Lake in Carlton County in early September.

Milfoil can form thick mats of vegetation at the water's surface that can interfere with water recreation, such as boating, fishing and swimming, said the DNR. The plant's floating canopy can also crowd out important native water plants.

Eurasian watermilfoil was first discovered in Minnesota in 1987 and has since been discovered in 224 lakes and eight rivers or streams.

The DNR is also in the midst of updating its shoreland management rules. Water quality is the top concern in any new shoreland management rules, which also could see it merge with wild and scenic river program rules.

"The public will have an opportunity to discuss issues with these officials after a series of presentations is made," Howes said of Friday's forum.