Senator vows to deal with mussels

By: Amy Chaffins, Alexandria Echo Press

State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen was in Alexandria Friday for an environmental issues meeting and it was aquatic invasive species – specifically zebra mussels – that took center stage.

Ingebrigtsen assured local members of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership that dealing with aquatic invasive species is one of his priorities, and, he said, he intends to direct legislation on the issue.

“It’s a serious issue that can’t wait until another session,” he said.

Ingebrigtsen is chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Plus, he sits on the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council – the Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of four funds created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment and it receives one-third of the money raised by a sales tax increase.

“There is funding available to deal with this,” Ingebrigtsen said Friday. “That means some projects will have to be put on hold, there has to be some prioritization.”

Bonnie Huettl, president of the Douglas County Lakes Association (DCLA), said, “I think [the meeting] went well and I think he got the message. Now we have to see what happens.”

Members of several lake associations from across Douglas County also attended Friday’s closed-door meeting with Ingebrigtsen; one of their specific concerns is zebra mussel containment.

To contain them, Huettl said, the DCLA would like to see state funds used to close, or monitor, boat accesses to all infested lakes in the area.

“That way, boats coming out do not spread the mussels,” Huettl said.

Local lakes, known to be infested, with zebra mussels include: L’Homme Dieu, Carlos, Geneva, Victoria, Darling, Jessie and Alvin.