AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) are plants, fish, invertebrates, and other creatures that are non-native to our lakes and rivers. Invasive species cause issues when they outcompete native animals and overwhelm their environment, with economic, environmental, and social ramifications. Each summer, Aitkin County hires AIS Watercraft Inspectors to check boats, docks, and other recreational watercraft for signs of invasive species. Aitkin County also has 4 decontamination units (decon units), which use hot water to clean and remove any invasive species that may be present on watercraft. A map of these decon units can be found below.
Directions to Decontamination Units:
- Mille Lacs boat access 1 mile west of Malmo on Hwy 18 — Click here for Google Maps directions
- Spirit Lake access 1.25 miles east of Hwy 169 on County Road 28 — Click here for Google Maps directions
- Lake Minnewawa access 3 miles east of Hwy 65 on Hwy 6 — Click here for Google Maps directions
- Army Corps Campground access on the NW end of Big Sandy, just east of Hwy 65 — Click here for Google Maps directions
Invasive Species in Aitkin County Waters:
Common aquatic invasive species of concern in Aitkin County are:
- Spiny waterflea (Present in Mille Lacs Lake)
- Flowering rush (Present in Big Sandy and Mississippi River)
- Starry stonewort (Not detected, but potential invader of concern)
- Eurasian watermilfoil (French Lake and Mille Lacs tributaries, Mississippi River)
- Zebra mussel (Big Pine, Little Pine, Farm Island, Cedar, Round, and Mille Lacs Lakes, Mississippi River)
- Carps (silver carp, grass carp, and bighead carp) (Mississippi River)
A list of Minnesota’s infested waters can be found here: EDDMaps
Remember, always: Clean, Drain, and Dry!