Grants awarded 2023
In March 2023, the county awarded twelve grants totaling $216,228. The projects will prevent and slow the spread of aquatic invasive species by assessing the risk of different pathways, surveying for early detection, empowering the public, supporting research, expanding water inspections, and increasing public awareness.
Absolute Science Studios
$12,815 to create awareness and prevention actions to the boating public through creating five first of their kind physical 3D models of AIS, to engage the viewer beyond a typical photograph. The goal is that the visuals and information will allow the public to recognize AIS easily, help with early detection, and realize what role they play in AIS prevention. These models will be incorporated into interpretive displays at five public boat accesses.
Wayzata Sailing School
$16,000 to create two new art sail designs focusing on AIS prevention messaging (Clean, Drain, Dry), using a new team of local artists, prioritizing groups who are typically underrepresented in natural resources and outdoor recreation. The new sails will be used for the Adaptive Sailing Program, which provides extra assistance to help people with physical and mental disabilities experience sailing. The project will also pilot the use a new sail manufacturing company that allows the artists’ creations to be digitally printed on the sails.
$21,348 to use outreach and engagement tactics to increase self-inspection by boaters when inspectors are not present at the access. The staff will document interactions with boaters and create a “best practices” guide describing what encourages some boaters to self-inspect and discourages others. This project will employ four to five ambassadors who will encounter boaters at times that inspectors are not present, including the Surfside Launch on Lake Minnetonka that observed especially high violation rates in 2022.
Bolton & Menk, Inc (two projects)
$21,735 to create a portable interactive AIS display prototype that can be replicated and used by water resource professionals around the county for outreach on preventing the introduction and spread of AIS. The display will educate the public about lesser-known sources of AIS such as pet stores and garden centers as well as the more commonly known source of watercrafts. It will be small and light enough to be easily transported to events, which will fill a need identified by practitioners currently using much larger, difficult-to-transport AIS engagement tools.
$10,700 to increase awareness and identification of AIS for reporting and early detection among lakeshore homeowners and county residents. Provide on-lake AIS surveys bringing a limnologist out on the water with local lake groups, provide lakeshore property owners equipment and training for AIS monitoring, a local AIS workshop, and AIS newsletter assistance.
Lake Minnetonka Association (two projects)
$5,000 to focus on early detection of AIS on Lake Minnetonka with assistance from the company PLM Lake & Land Management Corp. They will survey public and private access locations on Lake Minnetonka for Starry Stonewort, which is an aquatic invasive species that was first documented in Hennepin County in 2018. To date in Hennepin County, starry stonewort has only been identified in Medicine Lake. The University of Minnesota lists Lake Minnetonka as one of the top five lakes in the state likely to become infested with starry stonewort. The survey will be conducted at the optimal point in the growing season and will follow University of Minnesota methodology.
$3,650 to assess the success of flowering rush treatments from 2019 to 2021. There may still an opportunity to eradicate or greatly reduce flowering rush from several bays on Lake Minnetonka with a continued focus on early detection, management, and awareness. The Lake Minnetonka Association (LMA) will educate shoreland property owners on how to identify flowering rush and ask people to contact them if they find the plant. Suspected sightings will then be verified, recorded, and treated with LMA funding. Improved awareness and reporter increase the likelihood of successful eradication of flowering rush.
Christmas Lake Association (two projects)
$5,000 to leverage lakepledge.com (a county-developed app to engage and educate lakeshore homeowners on AIS prevention behaviors) with Christmas Lake homeowners and their children to provide them with a better understanding of their role in preventing the spread of AIS. Funding is contingent on the number of signups with a target participation of 250 registered users obtaining 500 virtual badges within lakepledge.com. If the lake association meets its lakepledge.com participation goals, they will unlock an additional $5,000 that can be used to enhance the existing AIS inspection and decontamination program at the city-owned public access.
$10,000/year for three years to supplement the homeowners association’s existing watercraft inspection and decontamination program in accordance with the county’s AIS guidelines. This project leverages funding from multiple partners including $5,000 from the City of Shorewood and approximately $58,000 from the Christmas Lake Homeowners Association. Annual funding amounts are subject to the county receiving funds for AIS prevention from the State of Minnesota.
$19,980 to educate and encourage boaters to take the correct actions to prevent the spread of AIS. They will provide watercraft inspection and educational services on ten high risk county accesses from the fishing opener to Labor Day. Staff will be randomly scheduled at locations or times when other inspection programs are not present. Additional emphasis will be placed on boater education including the proper use of CD3 stations.
Three Rivers Park District
$50,000/year for three years to supplement the Three Rivers Park District’s existing watercraft inspection program in accordance with the county’s AIS guidelines. This three-year agreement will expand the number of lakes, number of watercrafts decontaminated, and working hours of AIS inspectors. Annual funding amounts are subject to the county receiving funds for AIS prevention from the State of Minnesota.
Minneapolis Park and Recreational Board
$40,000/year for three years to supplement the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s existing watercraft inspection program in accordance with the county’s AIS guidelines. This three-year agreement will expand AIS inspection hours. Annual funding amounts are subject to the county receiving funds for AIS prevention from the State of Minnesota.