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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AIS prevention grants

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.


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


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.

Recently awarded grants

Grants awarded 2020

In April 2020, the county awarded nine grants totaling $389,250. 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.

Fortin Consulting Inc.

$15,000 to investigate whether prohibited or regulated species are being sold to consumers at pet stores and garden centers within Hennepin County. This work helps identify channels through which aquatic invasive species are distributed to consumers and will assist staff with outreach efforts to pet store and garden center staff. This project is in partnership with Anoka County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Lake Minnetonka Association

$4,250 to provide funding to conduct surveys for starry stonewort, an invasive species, at various sites around Lake Minnetonka. The sites will be surveyed twice during optimal growing times using methodology recommended by the University of Minnesota.

Nine Mile Creek Watershed District

$20,000 to conduct research concerning the presence of goldfish in the Cornelia Lake system. Researchers will tag 500 goldfish and determine how the fish migrate and use the data to develop a management strategy. The project will include a public awareness and education component.

WaterGuards LLC

$30,000 to supplement existing countywide watercraft inspection programs by adding additional inspections at public accesses during varied times throughout the season. Introducing unpredictability to the presence of watercraft inspections at public accesses is expected to increase compliance with aquatic invasive species prevention best practices. Funding for this project will also be used to provide education to boaters about how to use waterless cleaning stations located at public accesses.

Wayzata Yacht Club

$10,000 to install a fresh water portable heated wash station for incoming and outgoing watercraft. This is an important project for reducing the spread of aquatic invasive species into and from Lake Minnetonka because this access point is used by watercraft from around the country.

Wildlife Forever

$10,000 for the installation of “Clean Drain Dry” messaging at public marinas and bait shops in Hennepin County. The messages will be designed to increase public awareness about aquatic invasive species prevention measures.

Three-year grants

Christmas Lake Association

$10,000 annually for three years to supplement the association’s existing watercraft inspection and decontamination program. This project will leverage funding from multiple partners, including $16,000 from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, $5,000 from the City of Shorewood, and $44,962 from the Christmas Lake Association. The county’s annual portion of the three-year funding commitment will be subject to the county receiving funds from the State of Minnesota.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

$40,000 annually for three years to supplement the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s existing watercraft inspection program. Pursuant to the county’s aquatic invasive species guidelines, this three-year agreement will expand aquatic invasive species inspection hours. Annual funding amounts will be subject to the county receiving funds for aquatic invasive species prevention from the State of Minnesota.

Three Rivers Park District

$50,000 annually for three years to supplement the Three Rivers Park District’s existing watercraft inspection program. Pursuant to the county’s aquatic invasive species guidelines, this three-year agreement will expand the number of lakes, number of watercraft that will be decontaminated, and working hours of aquatic invasive species inspectors. Annual funding amounts will be subject to the county receiving funds for aquatic invasive species prevention from the State of Minnesota.

Reports and studies

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.

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 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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