Commentary - Channel decision not a disserviceThe public should be aware that there were other factors to consider in making the decision to attempt stopping the spread of zebra mussels by closing channels.
By Sue Engstrom and Bonnie Huettl,Alexandria, MN
The public should be aware that there were other factors to consider in making the decision to attempt stopping the spread of zebra mussels by closing channels.
The commentary [May 28 Echo Press] by Mr. Steinle had many flaws. They have been addressed below.
1) “…effectively permanent…” Mussels or invasives are permanent. Removing the channel restrictions would not be a next-to-impossible action if/when zebra mussels are found in Victoria. As indicated by the board, it would only require action at their next board meeting.
2) “…nuisance in the lakes they have invaded…”: As if the problems they have caused are just a “nuisance.” Talk to people whose water-intake pipes on their water pumps and/or their irrigation systems have been clogged. Talk to people who hire lake service providers to store lifts or docks offsite and now must rid those items of zebra mussels before transporting them – or face a minimum $250 fine for traveling on public roads with invasives. Those service providers will pass that on in higher fees.
3) “…including opposition from the L’Homme Dieu Lake Association, as backed by the Carlos Lake Association…”: One Lake Jessie resident in favor of the channel closing wondered out loud, “Why do those large powerful lake associations have any say in what affects our little lakes?” Some “chain voices” have been working to downplay the mussel issue but it is here and must be dealt with.
4) “…favoritism…”: The phrase “thousands of boats that travel that Carlos-Darling channel every weekend” was not used by the DNR/county as a reason for keeping that channel open – it was used as a reason to suspect that Darling is already infested. There are many on Darling who requested closing that channel but were told it couldn’t be closed because Darling has no public access.
5) “…zebra mussels did not arrive in Douglas County by channel travel. They arrived by way of boats delivered by trailer to boat launch sites.” Those boats were carrying infested water from another lake in their live wells, bait containers, and possibly bilges. Drying of the hull during transport and storage on the trailer kills the adult mussels. The larvae arrive quite alive in the water carried on those boats.
This particular issue is of great importance because watercraft floating in infested water – not stored on a lift between uses – are more than likely to bring live adult zebra mussels into other lakes because they are not given a chance to dry out between uses.
6) “…yet they are leaving all the channels open to small non-motorized boat traffic.”:
Canoes, kayaks and the like have no live wells or bilge pumps to contend with or motors that have intakes and are usually stored on shore during non-use, giving them a chance to not have the mussels become attached, and to dry out so any mussels or larvae die.
7) “So one wonders, are there other county/DNR motivations for channel closures?” The writer might be correct here when he speculates “set a precedent … for whatever new invasive species that may arrive?” If a new invasive is as problematic as the zebra mussels does that mean they should be ignored?
8) The county wants “…to save money that might otherwise be spent on channel dredging…?” How is the county saving any money by trying to protect part of the chain by using buoys already available?
9) “…we have lost countless thousands of dollars in property value…” Property values do not respond as quickly as tempers. Also keep in mind that values may decline due to the presence of the aquatic invasive species as well. If the resort owners who would be directly affected by the closure are willing to take a chance, why is there such opposition other than “it’s my right” to use all of the chain. Lakeshore has historically been a solid investment whether on the chain or not.
10. “There is little funding to do lake access boat launch monitoring.” The DNR has provided monitoring in previous years. This year the Douglas County Lakes Association has provided funding for an additional 900 hours of monitoring. This is a significant endeavor.