AIS Research Center to host showcase
Fergus Falls Journal, 6/2/2018
The issue of aquatic invasive species (AIS) sometimes seems insurmountable. County staff have the job each summer of taking guard at public accesses to help reduce the spread of these invaders.
“They travel down the road at 55 mph. Our goal is to educate people in the voting public to control what they can control,” Spencer McGrew, AIS specialist for Otter Tail County, said.
The good news is, there’s definitely hope in the future of AIS management. Since 2012, the University of Minnesota has been running the Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.
“Their job is to push the envelope of science with research of aquatic invasive species, like water chemistry, their biology, ecosystems in general, to see if there’s a way we can use science and apply that science to control and manage them,” McGrew said.
In essence, county employees are working on the short-term solutions at the public accesses while the research center is handling the long game. The county does prevention until the research comes in with offensive moves for management and control of AIS.
“We’re holding the line, and these folks here are really going to ultimately, hopefully find a solution,” McGrew said. “There has been success with the long game already. The sea lamprey was a plague of the Great Lakes for many decades and through concerted research they found a solution to really manage them and knock down their numbers.”
On Friday, June 8, from 9:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., the Becker, Hubbard and Otter Tail Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA), County AIS Coordinators and the Pelican River Watershed District have come together to put on a showcase at the Detroit Lakes M State Campus for community members to attend and learn more about the research being done at the center. The event is free to attend and feature five presentations.
"What this showcase is about, is really a chance for us, the people that live up here around these lakes where research is being done, to see the scientists present their work and what they are doing to a local audience,” McGrew said.
In the past, the research center has put on open houses at its location on the U of M campus, but this is the first time they’ve agreed to travel up North to present their work.
“I think this will be a wonderful thing. Many of the speakers are the ones in the trenches and working directly in the labs. This is an important time mainly because there was a lot of hard work going into encouraging the research center to come up north and show off their work, so we’re really excited,” McGrew said.
The opening speaker for the day will be the mayor of Fergus Falls, Ben Schierer. As the mayor of a city now dealing with zebra mussels in the Otter Tail River, the issue of AIS has become a pressing one.
“This could potentially impact our public works. Our drinking water comes from the river, the power company uses the river to cool its plant. This could affect the infrastructure of our town,” McGrew said.
The goal of the day in Detroit Lakes will be to show that, yes, this is a problem, but there is research being done that should bring the public hope. The U of M is committed to this research and seeing it through.
“If you care about the lakes and the rivers and the water, you should be there. If you’re a hopeful person, you should be there, or even if you’re a little pessimistic you can come away with some positive energy because there is progress,” McGrew said.
To register for the event or for more information, call 218-846-0436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Registering by Thursday would be preferred to get a count for lunch.