As the last of the ice is finally gone, many people look forward to getting their boats back in the water.  This also means groups will once again head to boat launches in an effort to keep Aquatic Invasive Species [AIS] out of the lakes.  AIS can be determinantal to a lake’s health.

Eurasian Water Milfoil, Rusty Crayfish and Zebra Mussels have all been found in lakes in Forest County.  Once they’re in there it is very hard to get them out. Most of the time you’re just not going to, but luckily most of them can at least be managed.

The Clean Boats, Clean Waters program is a large part of that effort.  The county conservation office works with them and other agencies, lake associations, and volunteers to monitor boats coming in and out and public boat launches.

Last year, volunteers and paid staff spent their summers monitoring lakes in Forest County.  One of the more challenging parts of the effort to stop AIS spread is securing the funding.  Historically, counties were in that position where they have someone hired and then they put in for another competitive grant and then they don’t get it. Somebody ranks higher and they end up having staff leave because of the job goes away.

Fortunately, the DNR’s new Lake Monitoring and Protection Network will help.  It sets up AIS funding more like a contract and less like a grant. The DNR will distribute the funds based on a number of factors like AIS presence, the amount of surface water, and public access availability.

The state is also encouraging neighboring counties to work together to monitor lakes in the area.  The DNR just can’t afford to give full time aquatic invasive species coordinator program money to every county.  So, they’re counting on counties to either cover the gaps or to regionalize. 

Forest County recently agreed to work with Langlade and Oconto County to help fight AIS.  The new program will be managed by the Lumberjack Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D).  The agreement allows the three counties to combine their funding and hire a full-time tri-county AIS Coordinator.  A new coordinator was recently hired and will maintain an office in Langlade County, but expect to see him/her out and about throughout the county.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .