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DNR commissioner visits with Beltrami County officials

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr talks with Beltrami County commissioners and staff at the county administration building Tuesday morning. JOHN HAGEMAN | BEMIDJI PIONEER

Landwehr gave an overview of the efforts to stop the northern spread of Asian carp after a couple commissioners expressed concerns.  

“The worst nightmare I could possibly have is if the flying carp somehow transmigrated up the Mississippi and now we had a new boating sport on Lake Bemidji where we’re knocking them out of our boats with baseball bats,” Beltrami County Commissioner Joe Vene said. 

Commissioner Jack Frost said there’s talk of removing the Knutson Dam on Cass Lake, which could potentially allow for invasive species coming upstream.

Landwehr said the DNR thought about an electric barrier at the lock and dam in Minneapolis, but ran into concerns that it would damage the infrastructure there. He said it wouldn’t likely be approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“So we’re proposing another type of technology,” Landwehr said. “The Legislature’s not very keen on this. They want electric or nothing it seems like.”

He said the best fix would be closing the lock and dam at Saint Anthony Falls, but that would take congressional action.

“If the fish ever got to that point, you’ve still got multiple barriers before they get up here,” Landwehr said. He said a bigger problem would be people accidentally bringing in Asian carp into local lakes from elsewhere.

Landwehr said they haven’t seen Asian carp north of Lake Pepin, which is 20 miles southeast of Red Wing.

He also discussed zebra mussels, which were recently discovered in Lake Winnibigoshish.

“There’s so much we don’t know about zebra mussels in particular,” Landwehr said. “Much of what we know about zebra mussels is from what we’ve learned out east. Well the eastern water bodies are different from Minnesota.”

But he said the invasive species could have an impact on recreational activities and industrial facilities like water treatment plants.

“So prevention is the best approach,” Landwehr said. 

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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