25 Otter Tail watercraft inspectors worked the lakes, with all eyes on invasive species
Bill Rollie, a semi-retiree living at Star Lake, has loved his summer job as watercraft inspector, part of Otter Tail County’s efforts to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.
“The summer of 2019 was my seventh summer of working as a watercraft inspector,” said Rollie on Aug. 30 at the public access on Marion Lake near Richville.
That day he rotated to five different lakes. In addition to Marion, he worked at Rush, Buchanan and Round lakes north of Ottertail city and at Boedigheimer Lake east of Richville.
Rollie was one of 25 watercraft inspectors working in Otter Tail County this year from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
“We see our job as educating people who use boats and other watercraft,” said Rollie who retired to Star Lake after living in Austin until 2006. “Most people are compliant with the rules and regulations.”
Before leaving a lake, fishermen are required to drain water from boats, motors and livewells. Boat owners also are urged to perform water draining away from boat ramps.
Rollie points out that Minnesota state law prohibits transporting all aquatic plants from one lake to another. This law reduces the risk of zebra mussels being transported while attached to aquatic plants.
Zebra mussels can encrust equipment such as boat motors and hulls which reduce performance and is costly to clean and repair. Swimmers can cut their feet on zebra mussels attached to rocks, docks, swim rafts and ladders.
“The law also helps prevent the spread of Eurasian watermilfoil,” he points out.
Eurasian watermilfoil diminishes fish habitat. Dense mats can form near the surface of the water.
Coordinating inspectors for the summer 2019 boating season was Spencer McGrew, Otter Tail County’s aquatic invasive species specialist. He works in coordination with the county’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force.
Chris LeClair, who heads the county’s Land and Resource Department, told county commissioners that watercraft inspectors such as Rollie have been well received by the general public.
AIS informational signs are in place at public boat accesses throughout Otter Tail County.
The county board of commissioners and AIS Task Force are in agreement to try and work closely with area lake associations in efforts to control the spread on invasive species.
Taking a lead is the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations.