Less than a year ago, Wright County was looking to
expand its pilot project to require boat inspections for Aquatic Invasive
Species (AIS) on county lakes from three lakes to nine. One of the six lakes that
was to be part of the expansion was Cedar Lake in Corinna Township. However, when
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources rejected the county’s proposal to
expand its AIS program, the ordinance to continue the project was repealed,
effectively ending the program completely – for the six proposed lakes and the
three existing lakes.
But, thanks to an agreement between the Wright County Parks
& Recreation Department and the Cedar Lake Conservation Club (CCLC), the
ability to clean boats on Cedar Lake, which is bordered to the north by county-owned
Schroeder Park, will happen after all.
The Parks & Rec Department has entered into a
partnership with the CCLC to purchase a CD3 Solar Wayside, a waterless solar powered
cleaning station that doesn’t require access to electricity – making it ideal
for a location like Schroeder Park. It is a system that uses a wet/dry vacuum
and compressed air to clean the exterior of boats as well as extract water from
live wells and ballast drains.
Parks & Rec Director Marc Mattice said that the
CD3 has been well received elsewhere in Minnesota and that not only can it be
put to use in Wright County, with the AIS pilot project no longer in operation,
it can serve as an educational tool for individual boaters moving forward.
“Hennepin County has been using it and seeing great
results from it,” Mattice said. “Without the Regional Inspection Program, we’re
thinking this might be a way to educate (boaters).”
The partnership will include a 50/50 cost share between
the Parks & Recreation Department and the CLCC to purchase the CD3 station
(at a cost of around $34,000) and a maintenance agreement for up to five years.
Mattice said that the funding is available in a fee line item in his department’s
budget created for such projects.
“Every year we have a charge in our campground fees to
do some projects that are specific for campers,” Mattice said. “At Schroeder Park,
the main thing at the park is the swimming beach. If it wasn’t for that lake,
Schroeder Park wouldn’t be Schroeder Park. I think taking money out of that surcharge
for Schroeder Park – with our balance, it’s enough to cover the cost (of)
$16-17,000 – would be the way to go. It’s my recommendation and the Parks
Commission’s recommendation as well.”
This week, the Wright County Board of Commissioners
signed off on the creation of the partnership and feel it is a good first step
in the post-Regional Inspection Program era. If successful it could potentially
lead to a mobile cleaning station to be purchased and transported to several lakes
with county access points.
“I’m glad to see that people are getting innovative
and looking at ways to make it more convenient for people and to raise
awareness,” Commissioner Christine Husom said. “Hopefully we can really cut
down on AIS.”
Board Chair Darek Vetsch praised the CLCC for its
commitment to making sure that, AIS program or not, the group is going the
extra mile to make sure Cedar Lake doesn’t potentially get infested like so many
Minnesota lakes have in recent years.
“I want to give my appreciation to the Cedar Lake
Conservation Club for stepping up and helping make this funding possible to make
this (partnership) happen,” Vetsch said. “If groups like that don’t step up,
things like this don’t happen. It’s people making a dedication of their own money
to preserve the quality of our lakes. I can’t thank you enough for doing that.”