Lake Vermilion in St Louis County is a popular destination for fishermen and recreational boaters. About 16,000 boats from all over the Midwest launch at 17 public and 20+ private accesses each year.
As the Vermilion Lake Association (VLA) looked closely at the level of risk posed by boats entering Lake Vermilion, they found a disproportionate number of boats from out-of-state lakes and from Minnesota infested waters coming to Vermilion’s private accesses.
“It’s clear our resort, campground and marina business partners are, indeed, on the front lines of the AIS battle,” said Jeff Lovgren, VLA AIS Program Coordinator.
Many resorts began actively inspecting incoming boats in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, the VLA and its partner North St Louis Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) expanded existing projects to further help their resort partners combat that threat. “We’re helping to train dock attendants to inspect boats, we’re providing a per-boat financial stipend to help resorts offset inspection costs, and we’re offering DNR-trained inspectors to help during the chaotic Saturday afternoon cabin change-over,” continued Lovgren.
In 2021, North St Louis SWCD will consolidate Vermilion’s decontamination support at a single site at the lake’s busiest public access – Hoodoo Point N. This is an efficiency move, allowing one trained decontamination operator to cover both the launch ramp and, whenever needed, the decontamination station. Decontamination is needed infrequently, but when it’s needed, there is no substitute. The station will support inspectors at all public and resort accesses lake wide.
“Our work at private and public accesses is not just about inspections,” said Lovgren. “We view this as an unequalled opportunity to get the AIS message to boat operators to help them help Lake Vermilion. Our inspectors show boat operators how to self-inspect their boat, making sure it’s clean and dry, leaving all water behind.”
Funding for the VLA AIS program is provided by a grant from St Louis County’s AIS Prevention Program.
For additional information about Lake Vermilion AIS prevention activities, visit: www.VermilionLakeAssociation.org.