Lake groups unite to fight spread of zebra musselsNow that zebra mussels have infested bodies of water in Douglas County, the Douglas County Lakes Association (DCLA) is calling upon other lake associations – and the public – for help.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Now that zebra mussels have infested bodies of water in Douglas County, the Douglas County Lakes Association (DCLA) is calling upon other lake associations – and the public – for help.
At a meeting last week, the DCLA decided to form a committee solely dedicated to zebra mussels.
Carl Towley, a member of the DCLA, said the association made a request to the other lake associations in the county to have a representative from each serve on the Zebra Mussel Committee.
So far, the response has been great, he said.
“We want the public to know that we are concerned about this issue,” said Towley. “Right now, it’s a number one issue. We are all equally concerned.”
The Zebra Mussel Committee will meet on a regular basis to plan and prepare a position paper that will be presentation to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The paper is a statement that sums up the lakes associations’ position on what the DNR should be doing to combat the infestation of this type of exotic species in Douglas County lakes.
He said it would not be critical of the DNR, and that “The DNR is staffed by universally good-hearted people who must take into account the political ramifications of their actions.”
The paper will contain DCLA-endorsed action items that the members hope the DNR will embrace.
“Hopefully, the paper will also serve as a call to action for citizens in Douglas County because it is published by ordinary citizens concerned about our beautiful lakes and future generations,” Towley said.
Towley was reassured by members of the DNR, who said they would respond if there was significant public support requesting purposeful, urgent action.
The newly formed Zebra Mussel Committee has tentatively planned to meet on Wednesday, November 18 to discuss the position paper, debate it and modify it, said Towley.
Next, he said the document would be published in the Echo Press newspaper and on the newspaper’s website so that the public could respond to it before it is presented to the DNR.
“We want to take a pulse of the public and see if the community feels as strong as we do about dialing up the level of aggressiveness when it comes to dealing with the zebra mussel infestation,” said Towley. He added that he knows the population of zebra mussels can’t be eliminated or prevented, but that the spread of them can be stopped or at the very least, slowed down.
Towley feels there are so many layers to the zebra mussel problem; not just here, but statewide.
In addition to asking the DNR to be more aggressive about the recent infestation, Towley said legislators need to make the zebra mussel problem a priority during the next legislative session.
He urged citizens in not only Douglas County, but any county where zebra mussels are a problem, to contact their local legislators by calling them, writing them or e-mailing them, asking to make zebra mussels a high priority agenda item.
“We need to push for more rules and we are asking for support from the public. We have to get the ball rolling,” said Towley. “This is an issue that needs to be addressed now and not two years from now.”
Towley said that if citizens in the community have questions about the Zebra Mussel Committee, they should contact the Douglas County Lakes Association or any of the individual lake associations.
“If anyone wants to join the Zebra Mussel Committee, we will welcome them with open arms,” he said.
The DCLA can be reached by calling its secretary, Dorothy Klemann, at (320) 762-8005.