Aquatic Invasive Species in Cass County

“Since 2014, the Cass County AIS Task Force has been pulling together as a team to aggressively plan and implement strategies to prevent all forms of aquatic invasive species from entering our public waters by educating, inspecting watercraft, and decontaminating boats and trailers leaving infested waters,” reports Rima Smith-Keprios, Cass County ESD/Soil and Water Conservation District.  “Our goal is to prevent infestations from occurring and manage those waters that are infested and we need your help.”


 April of 2018 marks the 3rd year of the required Enhanced Skills Training Workshop for Cass County watercraft inspectors.This is in addition to the mandatory MN DNR training. Once again for the 3rd year, Beltrami County watercraft inspectors will attend the training also. Over the course of two days, the inspectors are immersed in the ecology and biology of AIS. Additionally they learn customer service skills, how to inspect sailboats and other relevant skills.
With returning and new presenters and inspectors, updated and new content will be shared this year. We are very excited to have as our "endcap" speaker on Friday April 20, Director Dr. Nick Phelps from University of MN AIS Research Center. Dr. Phelps will talk about the connection between inspectors at the accesses and how it plays into research at MAISRC. We are fortunate indeed to have this opportunity for the region's inspectors!
Because we are SO excited about this we have decided to open up the final hour of Friday's program to the public. Stay tuned to this page for more information as we near the date of the workshop. Funding for the Enhanced Skills Training Workshop comes from a partnership grant with the Initiative Foundation and Cass County AIS Prevention funds. 


Doug Jensen from Sea Grant Minnesota doing what he does best! Flashing big smiles and sharing information at the 2018 Enhanced Training Workshop. Thank you to Doug Jensen for being an integral part of Cass County's training!

Catch this AIS Video!

Cass County and Dr. Pat Welle Ph.D. Emeritus Professor BSU teamed up to conduct a study on ways resort owners and fishing guides in Cass County can prevent the spread of AIS. Dr. Welle focused on the Boy River chain of lakes, which had been identified as high risk for infestation of zebra mussels and faucet snails. Click on the link below to read the entire report.

"Enhancing the Role of Resorts and Fishing Guides in Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species"

Aquatic Invasive Species FAQ's: Boating, fishing, bait, and laws.

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A new perspective! Read some interviews with Cass County watercraft inspectors: 


20160609_143438Name: Jim
How long have you been a watercraft inspector?
This is my 3rd year.
Why did you want to be a watercraft inspector?
I want to have lakes stay like they are. 2. It is a good part time job.
What is the best part of this job?

Talking to all the people. 99% of them are true and blue.
How many boats do you inspect a day?
It’s slower during the week, 12-14. Add about 25% + to that for weekends.
How long does an inspection take?
2-2.5 minutes, depending on the boat. If they have an electric trolling motor you need to check where they attach for weeds, if they have a kicker motor, an electric anchor, you need to check those.
What is the most common violation you come across?
The bait. I keep a water jug in my truck, here it says “bait legal” on it. This makes the boaters happy because they don’t have to throw their bait out. At tournaments like the one last week on Leech Lake, those guys will have 4-6 different types of bait, and they can spend $40-60 on it, so they don’t want to have to throw it away. My grandson said I should make and sell these. I told him I don’t think I can because that would be a conflict of interest or something.
Have you ever had someone refuse an inspection?
No, most of them don’t say anything. I can tell when a few of them have been unhappy that I’m looking at their boat, but they stay quiet.
Are most boaters cooperative and in favor of inspections to prevent the spread of AIS?
There is an occasional jerk but most are okay with it. They don’t want AIS in the lake either.
What is one law people don’t seem to know about?
The bait law.
Have you personally seen the effects of AIS on a lake?
No I haven’t.
What is one thing you wish people know about AIS and preventing its spread?
I would like there to be more educating via the press, web, etc. so that people are more aware in general.


Name: Michele                                                                                                          michelle
How long have you been a watercraft inspector?
3 years
Why did you want to be one?
I love to be outdoors, meet new people, and see new lakes.
What is the best part of this job?
Meeting all the people. People know me and see me around town and say, hey you inspected my boat the other day! Also people I know will call me up and ask me to do courtesy inspections for them.
What is the highest amount of boats you’ve inspected in a day?
On Mule Lake one day last summer I inspected 35 boats.
Do you know what they do with all of the data that is collected, do you get to see it?
No, I don’t know what they do with it and I don’t see it either.
What is the most common violation you come across? What about one law people don’t seem to know about?
The drain plugs is the most common violation. They try to say they don’t know about it, but it’s been a law for years. A lot of people from out of state say that they don’t know about it.
Have you ever inspected a boat that came to the access with AIS on it?
A sailboat that had zebra mussels on it. It came from Lake Minnetonka.
What is one thing you wish people knew about AIS and preventing its spread?
I wish more people were willing and aware – even if an inspector isn’t present, they need to do their own inspection. I try to teach them how to do it. I want people to know that it’s not the ducks transporting it, we (people) are doing it. Ducks clean themselves really well. Dogs aren’t doing it either.

Name: Mary019
How long have you been a watercraft inspector?
This is my second year.
Why did you want to be one?
Two reasons. One, I think it’s a very important issue that needs to be approached as education. We want people to check even when we’re not here. Two, I love nature and getting up early in the morning and seeing the loons and baby ducks.
What is your favorite part of this job?
Nature and being outside.
Tell me about the most unusual situation you’ve encountered while working.
There were 2 moms bringing their teenage girls out on the lake. They were so excited and accidentally dropped their boat on the concrete.  The girls want to call their dads, but the mom’s said, no we can do this ourselves. The mothers showed their daughters how to fix the situation and rescued themselves. That was really great to see.
What is the most common violation you see?
The drain plug, from other states especially. I’ll tell them about the law and also talk more with them about the bait laws.
Have you personally seen the effects of AIS on a lake?
I live near the Whitefish Chain, and I go for walks and see zebra mussels on everything. People think about them just being in the water, but they are on EVERYTHING, even on cattails.
How do you think boater education would be improved?
It should start in schools more, earlier education not just about AIS but also water quality. A boating program for teenagers would be good. If people take their kids out and the kids have learned how to do self-inspections, they will encourage the adults to do one.
Do you think we will reach a point where boaters can adequately do self-inspections?
I would like to say yes, but I don’t know. Inspectors keep everyone honest and remind people to do the right thing.


Now that you know a little more about a few of the Cass County Watercraft Inspectors, be sure to say Hi to Jim, Michelle and Mary if you see them when you're at a public water access!