Lake residents disappointed with state effort to stop aquatic invasive species

The association includes members from almost a dozen lakes in eastern South Dakota.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 8:34 PM CDT
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PICKEREL LAKE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota Lakes and Streams Association held a forum at Pickerel Lake Friday to discuss the pressing issue of aquatic invasive species in eastern South Dakota lakes.

The association includes members from almost a dozen lakes in eastern South Dakota.

At least 12 lakes in South Dakota are confirmed to be infested with zebra mussels, which majorly disrupt ecosystems in bodies of water.

Steve Charron, Vice President of the Lakes and Streams Association, lives on Enemy Swim Lake, which was confirmed to be infested with zebra mussels in July.

”South Dakota is in danger right now. We’re being threatened by invasive species. A lot of people have heard of zebra mussels, and we have a number of lakes that are now infested, including the one I live on,” said Charron.

During the forum, the University of Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center presented their current research to the South Dakota Lakes and Streams Association, but there is no current way to eliminate aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels once they’ve infested a lake.

Leaders of the Lakes and Streams Association stressed that zebra mussels were not the only invasive species to be worried about, but invasive weeds and plants as well.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 602 was passed during the 2022 legislative session, and it required the state to provide a report of their increased efforts to slow the spread of aquatic invasive species by August 1st.

The report by Game, Fish and Parks, however, was disappointing to the members of the Lakes and Streams Association.

“It did show that in some parts of the state of South Dakota, particularly the west, there were increased inspections of compliance based on the law around aquatic invasive species. But in some places of the state, such as the northeast part, there was actually a decrease in inspections,” said Deb Soholt, board member of the South Dakota Lakes and Streams Association.

Those areas where inspections decreased include Webster and Enemy Swim Lake.

Soholt says the report still doesn’t show a solidified plan to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

”I think there was some expectation that there would be some upgraded plans about what we’re going to do moving forward, but really at this time, that report is silent,” said Soholt.

Members of the Lakes and Streams Association now feel as if it is up to them to unite and lead the charge to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species in eastern South Dakota through boat inspections and educational outreach.

”The lake people and the people that like to use lakes really need to band together to fight this thing, because the longer that we can slow it or even stop it in some instances, the better off we’re going to be,” said Charron.

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