North St Louis Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) hires two interns every summer to work with the aquatic invasive species (AIS) program. This year, Charles Greenberg and Jack Hasty were hired to work alongside Natalya Walker, the SWCD’s AIS Program Coordinator. Together, along with their team of 24 watercraft inspectors, they completed boat inspections, decontaminations, and other AIS prevention projects throughout the summer.
Watercraft inspectors inform boaters at public boat landings about AIS and how to prevent their spread. This is our primary defense against the spread of AIS. However, the SWCD does have many other projects in action to combat AIS; for example, monitoring many of the high-risk lakes for new introductions of invasive species by completing vegetation surveys at the public accesses; and, working to bring attention to the risks of releasing live bait into a lake ecosystem by distributing minnow bags to local bait shops. These new bags have a graphic with information on proper bait handling. The SWCD also installed and maintained 3 new bait disposal stations at three public accesses. These stations provide an effective disposal site for anglers to dump their unwanted live bait right at the public access.
Public outreach events were a main focus this past summer. North St Louis SWCD was represented at 12 public outreach events and reached over 700 people at different events such as the grand opening of the Rainy Lake Fishing Pier, The Embarrass Fair, and the Harvest Moon Festival.
Unfortunately, three new lakes in the area were found to have Zebra Mussels this year. Rainy Lake along the US- Canadian Border was found to have zebra mussel veligers (larva). Spurred by these new infestations, the North St. Louis SWCD AIS prevention team will continue to do their work to prevent further spread of aquatic invasive species.
Submitted by Charles Greenberg, Edited by Natalya Walker