More muscle to combat musselsDouglas County will be adding additional manpower to monitor watercraft this summer. Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush was informed on March 16 that a 2012 Watercraft Access Inspections grant had been received from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
By: Crystal Dey, Alexandria Echo Press
Douglas County will be adding additional manpower to monitor watercraft this summer.
Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush was informed on March 16 that a 2012 Watercraft Access Inspections grant had been received from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The grant will aid in eradication of aquatic invasive species – specifically zebra mussels – that have spread through the chain of lakes, by paying the salaries of five watercraft inspectors.
Douglas County commissioners approved the hiring of three level-two and two level-one inspectors at Tuesday’s county board meeting.
The county was awarded a $32,750 cost-reimbursable grant, which means the county must expend the funds. Rush said the grant is compartmentalized; approximately $8,000 can be reimbursed for level-one inspectors and $25,000 for level-two inspectors.
“The difference is that a level-one watercraft inspector essentially is trained to identify invasive species when they look over a watercraft, trailer or a vehicle and provide information,” Rush said. “Level-two watercraft inspectors have a certain amount of authority.”
The level-two watercraft inspector is a new position established by the DNR. They are trained in greater depth in indentifying aquatic invasive species and on how to safely operate decontamination units.
Level-two inspectors can order a watercraft to be decontaminated. Since the inspectors are not law enforcement officers, they have no responsibility or authority to enforce state regulations.
However, if a level-two inspector has ordered a craft to be decontaminated, and the owner or operator fails to do that, they have now violated state law, Rush said.
Salaries for the seasonal inspectors are set according to state rates. Level-one inspectors will be hired at $7.75 an hour. Level-two inspectors will be paid a rate of $11 an hour.
Instructor training with the DNR begins in April. Rush plans to have inspectors ready to monitor lakes sometime in May. Instructors will be working during the busiest boating hours, Rush said.
As a condition of the grant, the county needs to procure its own decontamination equipment. The high-powered pressure washer will most likely be housed at Lake Carlos State Park with the ability to be relocated to other lakes’ water accesses as needed.
Commissioners authorized Rush to purchase a truck to transport the unit within the county. The truck needs to be at least a half-ton and cost less than $6,000.
The estimated cost for a decontamination unit is $20,000. Rush will bring bids before the board at a later date.