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Boat-cleaning station installed at Oak Haven Resort

Oak Haven Resort implemented a new self-serve, solar-powered boat cleaning station to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species like starry stonewort on Tuesday, July 12.

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Boat-cleaning stations have been installed at boat accesses in Beltrami County that have infestations of the invasive species starry stonewort.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Oak Haven Resort implemented a new self-serve, solar-powered boat cleaning station to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species like starry stonewort on Tuesday, July 12.

Funded by the 2021 House and Senate Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates is working to install these boat cleaning stations at each lake in the state that is affected by starry stonewort.

Cleaning stations were installed at seven other Bemidji area lakes earlier this spring.

This fishing season, boaters in Beltrami County will notice new boat-cleaning stations at public accesses in the area, with a goal to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species like starry stonewort.

Each boat-cleaning station, otherwise known as CD3 Wayside Solar Units, have tools to help people clean off their boats including a vacuum and an air hose to eliminate residual water.

The stations are also equipped with lights, so late-night anglers will be able to clean, drain and dry off their boats more easily, a release said.

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Ultimately, the boat cleaning stations will help prevent infested water from being transferred to new lakes and a more thorough decontamination process for those who find invasive species attached to their boats.

Starry stonewort, due to its seaweed-like algae that grows in tall, dense mats, is often transported between water bodies by attaching to boat propellers or the side of a watercraft. The dangers of starry stonewort range from ecological harm to the reduction of Minnesota’s lake-based tourism.

“Starry stonewort can spread rapidly and is an exceptionally dangerous AIS. It is expensive and difficult to manage with mechanical removal or chemicals, and easily spread by boaters,” Jeff Forester, executive director of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, said in the release. “Use of the stations is an imperative containment strategy.”

In May, Beltrami County installed seven stations at boat accesses on affected lakes including Big Turtle Lake, Lake Beltrami, Wolf Lake, Cass Lake, Moose Lake, Pimushe Lake, and Upper Red Lake at West Wind Resort.

“Starry stonewort is relatively new to Minnesota, and perhaps the most concerning one in the state at present,'' the release added. “For example, in 2015, a 260-acre patch of starry stonewort was discovered in Lake Koronis in Stearns County and by spring 2016 it covered thousands of acres along the shore.”

A future where Minnesotans are unable to use lakes for recreation, experts hope that it can be prevented if boaters take precautions to help stop the spread of invasive species.

In addition to boat-cleaning stations, free watercraft decontamination services are available during the summer months in Beltrami County.

To set up a watercraft decontamination appointment, call (218) 760-8519. To locate decontamination sites in Minnesota, visit www.mndnr.gov/decon .

Maggi is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on outdoor and human interest stories. Raised in Aitkin, Minnesota, Maggi is a graduate of Bemidji State University's class of 2022 with a degree in Mass Communication.
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