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Please Help Protect Our Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

Dear Neighbor or Visitor to the Ely Area:

Northern Minnesota is renowned for its clean water, good fishing, and wonderful recreational opportunities. We ask for your help to keep it that way in the future.

BLA members need to know that while a statewide DNR Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Program has been effective in slowing the spread of AIS, it has not stopped the spread. There are now known AIS infestations in over 800 Minnesota lakes, including Lake Superior Smelt, Spiny Water Fleas (SWFs) and as of 2023, Rusty Crayfish here in Burntside. Without the existing Inspection and Decontamination Program, AIS would be in probably twice that many lakes. Aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as zebra mussels, rusty crayfish, spiny waterflea, Eurasian watermilfoil, and others degrade water quality, destroy fisheries, and disrupt recreational activities. We need your help in stopping the spread of these “aquatic hitchhikers”. For new BLA members, you may not know that Burntside was always a great Lake Trout fishery and was one of the best Walleye lakes in the state back in the 1950s. Unfortunately the introduction of Lake Superior Smelt here has been devastating. The DNR has said that this toothy little carnivore essentially ended natural reproduction of Lake Trout, Walleye, Cisco and Whitefish in Burntside. Only recently have we seen the re- emergence of natural reproduction of Lake Trout and to a limited degree, Whitefish. Walleye are now totally dependent on biannual stocking in this lake. Walleye size and growth rates are estimated by the DNR to be 20% lower than normal due to Spiny Water Fleas throughout the water column in the summer.

These invasive plants and animals “hitch a ride” on our boats, trailers, jet skis, fishing gear, and other recreational gear. Cleaning this equipment properly every time before transporting it is one preventive measure for stopping the spread of AIS. In fact, MN state law now requires such preventive measures. The DNR recommended solution is: Clean, Drain, and Dry all watercraft and equipment before moving that boat to a new lake.

Boaters can also stop the spread of AIS by refraining from ever taking a boat and trailer out of an AIS infested water body and launching it in clean lakes anywhere in the state, without taking extraordinary Decontamination steps.. There are also things we can do to prevent the spread of AIS already in Burntside into Boundary Waters lakes nearby. More on this in the next section. Information on this website provides specific information on how we individually can improve the odds of stopping the spread of AIS. And specialized decontamination stations in the Ely area are available free of charge. Check for station locations. The residents, merchants, and other visitors to the Ely area greatly appreciate your help with this effort.

For more information:

The work of the Burntside Lake Association AIS Task Force has been generously funded by a grant from Saint Louis County.