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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 help local units of government and organizations implement projects that prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

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:

  • Address pathways of introduction (live bait, retail plant trade, aquarium sales, recreational watercraft and gear and equipment)
  • Address behaviors that spread AIS and provide education
  • Early detection and rapid response efforts
  • Other ideas that prevent the spread of AIS

Funding available

Typical project awards will range from $15,000 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.

Apply

Applications are closed for 2021. The next round of applications will be accepted in January of 2022. 

Contact

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

For more information, contact Tony Brough at tony.brough@hennepin.us or 612-348-4378.

Grants awarded 2021

In March 2021, the county awarded eight grants totaling $123,600. 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.

Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission

$10,000 to design, fabricate, and install new AIS signage for fishing piers, carry-in access sites and some smaller boat launches in the watershed. This will include locations within the cities of Golden Valley, Plymouth, and St. Louis Park.

Fortin Consulting Inc.

$20,000 to assess boater behavior when access inspectors are not present. The project is a continuation from 2017-2019 baseline observational measurements. The project will observe a total of six accesses of varying sizes. Half of the selected accesses have been redesigned with an emphasis on AIS prevention.

Lake Minnetonka Association

$5,000 to conduct a comprehensive lake survey for the Starry Stonewort plant. This species is new to Hennepin County and currently only known to be in Medicine Lake. This early detection project will survey more than 1,700 locations.

Lake Minnetonka Conservation District

$26,000 to re-design Grays Bay public access on Lake Minnetonka with an emphasis on AIS prevention. Two areas will be designated for boaters to Clean, Drain, Dry, & Dispose (CD3) as necessary for their watercraft. Modeled from successful past access re-design projects, two CD3 stations will be installed creating a social norm and providing the tools for the public. The LMCD is providing $20,000 in-kind funding towards this project.

Nine Mile Creek Watershed District

$7,600 to continue year two of a goldfish assessment in the Lake Cornelia system in Edina. The small goldfish commonly purchased as pets become a problem when people release the fish into a pond or lake when they no longer want them. In the wild, goldfish grow very large and outcompete native fish for food and ultimately upset the lake ecosystem. This funding will be used for technology to monitor movement patterns of goldfish. The NMCWD is providing $40,720 of in-kind funding towards this project.

WaterGuards LLC

$20,000 to provide randomized countywide watercraft inspections and focus on boater education services. The program will focus on locations or times where access inspection is not provided by other programs. 

Wayzata Sailing

$25,000 to design, create, and display long lasting art awareness on Lake Minnetonka. The five unique sets of sails, highlighting AIS issues, will be unveiled at Wayzata Art Experience and will remain in use with Wayzata Sailing regular programming. The school will contract with an art educator focused on Indigenous culture and practices in the development of the art.

Weaver Lake Conservation Association

$10,000 to pilot the use of a HydroSweep, a device that keeps water moving to reduce the floating vegetation around the public access, and thereby preventing it from attaching to the boat/trailer. This public access is quite weedy and has a high boater vegetation violation rate. In-kind infrastructure and time for this project has been provided by the association and the City of Plymouth. University of Minnesota graduate students will help assess a baseline and measure effectiveness of this technology for access AIS prevention.

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).

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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