Tucked between the Canadian border and Lake Superior sits Saint Louis County, Minnesota. This large county boasts more than 1,000 lakes, hundreds of miles of rivers, 169 boat launches, and one of the lowest rates of spread of aquatic invasive species in the state. With only 0.05% of lakes and rivers currently infested and only one new infestation in the last 4 years, Saint Louis County’s unique prevention model serves as an inspiration in the fight against aquatic invasive species.
Each year the county utilizes over $600,000 in funding to create a comprehensive aquatic invasive species prevention and management plan. Funds go towards research, education, on-the-ground prevention efforts and a comprehensive outreach and media campaign in partnership with Wildlife Forever’s Clean Drain Dry Initiative™.
The Clean Drain Dry Initiative™ (CD2) is the national campaign to educate outdoor recreational users on how to prevent the spread of invasive species. Strategic communications, marketing, outreach and educational services provide access to consistent messaging, and resources for local communities to implementing prevention programs.
Saint Louis County has thoughtfully combined on-the-ground efforts with a comprehensive outreach and media campaign. The county’s prevention efforts have been accomplished in partnership with local lake associations, cities, townships, the North Soil and Water Conservation Districts alongside National Leaders such as Sea Grant and Wildlife Forever. On-the-ground efforts including boat inspections, education, and decontamination at boat ramps tied together with billboards, TV public service announcements, gas station advertising, radio ads, and print advertising allow the CD2 prevention message to be seen, heard and felt throughout the county.
Burntside Lake Association is one of several key partners integrating CD2 education and outreach around the lake and throughout the local community of Ely, MN. “Our volunteer network works with Wildlife Forever to distribute materials to inspectors at the landings throughout the summer as well as the many storefronts in Ely to educate locals and tourists alike”, said Carrie Ohly-Cusack with Burntside Lake Association. “We appreciate the continued support from the County to maintain the health of our Lake and community.”
St. Louis County Commissioners meet annually to review and allocate grant funds to the AIS prevention projects that will have the largest impact. “We rely on the unique expertise of our partners to protect our waters from the constant threat of AIS, said Commissioner Nelson. Wildlife Forever plays a key role to ensure our communities and visitors are aware and stay vigilant in doing their part to stop the spread. It’s absolutely critical to maintain a high level of awareness if we are to stay ahead of this problem.”
“So much of our national CD2 prevention program’s innovation is owed to the partnership model we’ve enjoyed with St. Louis County over the past 5 years. It’s so rewarding to see the incredibly slow spread rates due to the investment in public outreach, education, and tools,” remarked Dane Huinker, Conservation Program Manager of Wildlife Forever.