PO Box 342
Webster, WI54893


New law benefits county's lakes and river
September 23, 2008

Without ever intending to, Burnett County may be becoming somewhat of a proving ground for invasive specie control.

With local enforcement officials stymied by an ineffectual state law concerning the transport of Eurasian water milfoil (EWM) and other aquatic invasive species, the county took it upon itself to draft a county ordinance to handle the situation.

The ordinance, meant to protect the lakes in the county from falling victim to invasive species, took effect in April.

"Other counties may look at Burnett to see how the ordinance has worked here," Eric Lindberg said. "Only a few citations have been issued state-wide before Burnett County passed this ordinance."

Lindberg, of Environmental Sentry Protection (ESP), is the designer of the ILIDS program, an automated video monitoring device, in use on seven Burnett County boat ramps to capture images of boats as they are being launched.

The idea is to capture video evidence of the handful of boaters who are launching boats with weeds attached, weeds which may contain milfoil.

"We don't get a second chance to keep Eurasian water-milfoil out of the lakes," Lindberg noted. "Once it's in, it's in."

Lindberg said it has been a successful summer with a number of citations having been issued.

"The new ordinance has not had very much impact on my office at all," Sheriff Dean Roland admitted. "I think it's actually been very minimal time spent."

He said the department's recreation officer, Josh Henry, looks at the video's which are submitted for evaluation.

"In viewing the footage, if he determines the ordinance has been violated, he issues a citation," Roland continued. "I think there have been five citations."

"We saw a lot more cleaning this year than we did last year, so people are aware of the ordinance," Lindberg said.

One citation has already worked its way through the court system when a Baldwin man pled no contest in early September to the illegal transport of aquatics/animals and was fined $154.50.

However, the grant the lake associations received from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to fund the video monitoring ends this year.

"I think most lakes are planning to continue with the monitoring irrespective of the grant status," Lindberg said.

In fact, Rick Doering, president of the Yellow Lake Association, said they have applied for another grant from the DNR.

"With the success we have had, we are quite confident we'll get that grant and continue use of the camera monitoring," he pointed out.

"We are being as proactive as we can to keep invasive species out of our waterway," he continued.

In an effort to provide recognition to those people cleaning their boats, Lindberg said ESP will be offering $10 gift certificates to the 10 best clean-offs they have seen this summer.

"We are making tremendous progress in this battle," he said.