Long Lake
Photo: Carol Hoyem

AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES (AIS)--Why Should we be Concerned About AIS?

1. Reduced property values. Our property values are expected to drop by at least 17% if AIS infests Long Lake, based on the experience of other lake communities (1)."

2. Loss of lake use and view. If AIS invade Long Lake, they will each have different destructive effects. Here are three major species:


milfoil mat on lake milfoil wrapped around boat propeller

foot cut by zebra mussel zebra mussels encrusting boat propellerzebra mussel relative size to a US quarter coin


spiny waterfleas on fishing line

Eurasian milfoil, zebra mussels, and spiny waterfleas alone will significantly degrade our property values. Even so, there are many other plant and animal AIS as well that are known to be in Minnesota waters. Plants: Brazilian elodea, curly-leaf pondweed, brittle naiad, non-native common reed, flowering rush, purple loosestrife, reed canary grass, non-native waterlilies (Nymphaea spp.), yellow iris; animals: banded mystery snails, bighead carp, common carp, Chinese mystery snail, faucet snail, grass carp, New Zealand mud snail, quagga mussel, round goby, ruffe, rusty crayfish, sea lamprey, silver carp, white perch.

3. AIS Proximity

Zebra mussels are now next door in lakes such as Big Rice, Andrusia, and Wolf, and the Mississippi River out of Wolf, all the way to the Power Dam. Eurasian milfoil is now in Leech Lake (20).

Advancement of aquatic invasive species towards Long Lake, Bemidji, MN

4. Method of Spreading

Several studies show that it is human boating practices, not bird behavior, that is responsible for the spread of AIS (21, 22). For example, one study conducted on Lake St. Clair in Wisconsin (22) showed that mallard ducks transported on average less than one zebra mussel larva per trip as they left the lake which is infested with zebra mussels. At the same time, most boats examined on Lake St. Clair had an average of 4200 zebra mussel larvae in each of their 9 gal live-well systems.

5. AIS detection

Transporting many AIS is illegal (23) but no one can realistically inspect every inch of their boat hull looking for grain-sized zebra mussels or get down on their knees and look for specks of milfoil.

6. Many different personalities and ideas

All Long Lakers love the lake and there is a wide spectrum of concern on Long Lake about the threat of AIS. Some feel it is overblown. Others are worried to the point of trying to stop development of new launches. Some are concerned but do not have the time, money, or training to get involved.

7. Decontamination

"Clean, Drain, Dry" is the motto of the DNR when it comes to controlling AIS. However, these three seemingly simply instructions are extremely difficult to carry out. Killing/removing AIS is difficult, time-consuming, and costly as discussed above. All equipment must be decontaminated and includes but is not limited to: docks, trailers, hulls, INTERNAL water cooling systems, bilges, livewells, anchors, mooring and anchor lines, inflatables, downriggers, planing boards, water skis, wakeboards, ropes, fishing gear, bait buckets, and stringers (23).

places on watercraft where aquatic invasive species may lodge

7. Penalties

The penalty for introducing AIS into a Minnesota lake is not commensurate with the violation. For example, if an uncaring or uninformed individual transports AIS to Long Lake, over $1,000,000 in reduced property values could be the result. However, the penalty "for placing or attempting to place into waters of the state water-related equipment that has prohibited invasive species attached when the waters are not listed by the commissioner as being infested with that invasive species" is only $500. (24).

8. Training

It is impossible to adequately train 100% of all Long Lake water users on all types of AIS. Even if this were possible, the knowledge, skill, and dexterity needed for decontamination render the exercise unrealistic.

9. Summary and Pledge

Long Lake Pledge: To keep our lake free of AIS, I pledge to never put anything in Long Lake that has been in another body of water since the last deep freeze.  Items that transport AIS can include bait water, fishing tackle and gear, jet skis, inflatables, rafts, boats, trailer, motors, anchors, canoes, sailboards, paddleboats, kayaks, sailboats, pontoons, toys, life jackets, boat lifts, docks, and diving platforms.

Economic Impact

Eurasian Milfoil

Zebra Mussels

Spiny Waterfleas

AIS transport

Long Lake fall colors
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