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Aquatic invasive species prevention

Hennepin County receives funding from the State of Minnesota to manage the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), such as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, carp and other species.

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Grants are available to implement projects that prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

View a flyer about the grant program (PDF).

Eligible recipients

Eligible recipients include:

  • Local government agencies, such as cities, watershed organizations and park districts
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Public companies and institutions
  • Private, for-profit companies

Eligible project activities

Eligible project activities include:

  • Early detection
  • Pathway analysis
  • Education
  • Decontamination
  • Water access re-design
  • Research
  • Management
  • Other ideas that prevent the introduction or limit the spread of AIS

Funding available

Typical project awards will range from $5,000 to $25,000, with a maximum project award of $50,000. No match required.

Eligible expenses include consulting fees, staff time, materials, supplies, labor, printing and promotions.


Applications due by 3 p.m. on Thursday, January 13, 2022.

To access the RFP and apply: 

  • Visit the Supplier Portal
  • Under events, view the application materials by selecting Aquatic Invasive Species Grant 2022
  • You need to be registered to submit an application. There has been an upgrade to the Supplier Portal, so all respondents will need to register or re-register. For detailed instructions on how to register and submit an application, including video tutorials and more, visit the Supplier Portal information page.


Staff is available to answer questions, offer resources and provide feedback on project ideas.

For more information, contact Tony Brough at or 612-348-4378.

Grants awarded 2022

In March 2022, the county awarded eight grants totaling $117,562. The projects will prevent and slow the spread of aquatic invasive species by using emerging technologies to detect aquatic invasive species early in lakes, supporting research and outreach on pathways beyond boat accesses, expanding inspections and outreach at public lake accesses, and funding research and education.

Bolton & Menk, Inc.

$15,550 to develop two AIS online courses for Hennepin County pet stores and garden centers. These voluntary courses will provide prevention education about AIS concerns, current laws, AIS identification, and awareness for these retail locations.  A “pledge to protect” strategy will be incorporated, which is a successful community-based social marketing practice.

$15,000 to conduct observations and analysis at five Mississippi River accesses to compare user compliance between accesses with redesign and those without, and to compare data with similar lake access observational data collected over the past several years.

HCI Hughes Company Innovations LLC

$15,500 to use descriptive analytics to examine data collected from self-serve waterless cleaning systems installed at county-maintained accesses to better understanding usage, patterns, timing, and boater behavior. These stations have tracked over 100,000 total tool uses throughout the county. Deliverables will include data dashboards of metrics per landing that can be shared with AIS prevention partners.

Lake Minnetonka Association

$5,000 to survey 16 public and private access sites on Lake Minnetonka for Starry Stonewort.

Lake Minnetonka Conservation District

$10,000 to install a self-serve waterless cleaning system (CD3 Outpost) at the City of Deephaven’s Carson Bay public access on Lake Minnetonka. This system provides the instructions and tools necessary for watercraft users to take AIS prevention actions when using the access.

Waterfront Restoration

$22,512 to assess the role of an AIS prevention ambassador at five public accesses from fishing opener to mid-July when violation rates are typically the highest. Ambassadors are not watercraft inspectors, and their interactions will instead engage in conversation and specific education. The goal is to increase self-inspection and understanding of the individual’s watercraft while encouraging compliance when inspectors are not present. Ambassadors will be located throughout the county at locations prioritized using a lake’s risk of introduction for zebra mussels and starry stonewort and coordinated in order to avoid overlap with AIS inspectors.

WaterGuards LLC

$20,000 to provide randomized watercraft inspection and boater education throughout the county from May to October 1. These inspection hours will be randomly scheduled each week, so that boaters cannot predict whether inspectors will be present. The inspections will be focused throughout the county at the top lakes of highest risk as defined by the University of Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center models. Inspections will also be coordinated with other AIS inspection programs to avoid overlap.

Wayzata Sailing Foundation

$14,000 to build on the success of last year's AIS Art Sails project, which created five unique sets of sails that highlighted AIS issues from diverse artists. These sails were used in 850 direct interactions with students, with visiting racers from other sailing clubs, and during hands-on STEM sessions. The sailing school will work with three artists from communities of color to create 15 additional sails using leftover ink.

AIS Prevention Aid Guidelines 2020–2025

Hennepin County has received funding from the State of Minnesota since 2014 to implement plans to stop the introduction or limit the spread of AIS. To receive funding, the county must establish guidelines for the use of the proceeds.

In 2019, adjustments were made to the county’s AIS prevention aid guidelines to direct the use of funds received 2020 through 2025. County staff engaged more than 60 stakeholders in evaluating the county’s AIS prevention programs, guidelines and funding options. Learn more about the evaluation by reading the Aquatic Invasive Species Program Evaluation Report (PDF).

Changes to the guidelines include:

  • Updating the goals to reflect the Natural Resources Strategic Plan
  • Defining the county’s best practices for public water access design
  • Emphasizing unpredictability in inspections
  • Setting funding by category goals to ensure the program is comprehensive
  • Funding of core program functions of enforcement at public water accesses and public access redesign project outside of a grant solicitation process to help partners with long-term planning and streamline administrative tasks to implement public access redesign work.

See the 2020-2025 AIS Prevention Aid Guidelines (PDF) to learn more.

Accomplishments report

The accomplishments report highlights how Hennepin County is using the state funding and the results of the projects we support.

See the 2019-2020 AIS prevention program accomplishments report (PDF).

AIS in pet stores and garden centers: inspection and education

In 2021, we partnered with Fortin Consulting, Inc. to inspect retail pet stores and garden centers for aquatic invasive species (AIS) as a potential pathway for spreading AIS to Minnesota lakes and streams. 

Read the report (PDF) to learn more. 

Medicine Lake AIS aerial early detection pilot

In 2020, we partnered with HCI Hughes Company Innovations to conduct an innovative Aquatic Invasive Species early detection project utilizing an industrial drone. The drone was equipped with high-resolution optical and multispectral sensors and mapped approximately 50 acres on Medicine Lake. The area mapped was known to have three aquatic invasive species including Starry Stonewort.

Read the analysis and findings (PDF) to learn more.

Invasive goldfish study

In 2020, we partnered with the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District to assess the goldfish population and movement in Lake Cornelia system. Goldfish up to 16 inches in length were captured during this study and it was estimated that 27,472 goldfish exist in North Cornelia alone. Goldfish were recently added to the priority list for investigation and the county is on the leading edge of this work. Antennas were installed to monitor the movements of tagged goldfish to identify recruitment locations.

Read the full invasive goldfish population and inter-waterbody movement assessment (PDF) to learn more.

Lakes with limited access study

Hennepin County funded Fortin Consulting to survey 13 lakes and ponds without public boat access for the presence of aquatic invasive species. At least one aquatic invasive species was found in each of these waters, including curly-leaf pondweed, Chinese and banded mystery snails, and invasive carp and goldfish. The results from these surveys show AIS can spread into lakes without public boat accesses. These results highlight that efforts for prevention need to extend to multiple pathways.

Read the full assessing the risk of AIS in waters with no public access report (PDF) to learn more.

Public access redesign study

The county has redesigned several public accesses using theories from behavior change research to prompt boaters to take proper aquatic invasive species prevention actions. The county commissioned an observational study to evaluate the effectiveness of the redesign in encouraging boaters to take action.

Key takeaways from the study include:

  • Redesigned accesses have better compliance rates
  • Redesigned accesses have better self-inspection rates
  • Redesigned accesses are successful at creating social norms and prompting action
  • Boaters behave differently when DNR inspectors are present
  • Data on tool use and timing can be used to improve AIS prevention programs
  • Traditional access signage has limited affect
  • Redesigning accesses can be cost effective way to prevent the spread of AIS

Based on the study results, county staff recommend expanding efforts to redesign accesses to promote aquatic invasive species prevention actions in conjunction with optimizing use times and creating uncertainty as to when inspectors will be present.

Read the full public access redesign observation summary report (PDF) to learn more.

Lake public access observations

This project is part of an effort to identify and manage pathways for the introduction and spread of invasive species into and within Hennepin County. The purpose of this project is to conduct observation research of aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention behavior for those using public lake accesses in Hennepin County.

See the 2020 lake public access observations for Aquatic Invasive Species prevention behaviors report (PDF).

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