Ex-governor (Tim) Pawlenty is responsible for the spread of zebra mussels in Minnesota lakes, and because of his non-actions while in office, I don’t think he should be considered for the vice president position in this upcoming election.
Five years ago, representatives from Pelican, Whitefish, Kimble, Gull, and Ossawinnamakee (Ossi) lakes in Crow Wing County formed a task force because of the mutual concern about zebra mussels in Ossawinnamakee. The task force met with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and assisted in redesigning the public access at Ossi to help educate the public on procedures to clean their boats after boating in the zebra mussel infested lake. It took a year and a half to get some improvements made.
On April 29, 2008, the task force met with Governor Pawlenty and DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten and presented a list of activities to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in general but specifically zebra mussels. We asked for DNR representation at the Ossi access seven days a week ice off until ice on. Pawlenty commented to DNR commissioner Holsten that “we should be able to do that. We are not talking about $10 million here.”
It took two years to get DNR interns and volunteers to patrol the access and help people clean their boats. We also asked for a law to require lake professionals, dock installers, weed cutters, fishing guides, etc., to attend AIS sensitivity training seminars as they are in and out of lakes multiple times each day. It took three years and a new governor to get that bill passed.
Zebra mussels were just found in Pelican Lake and as of July 2012, there are more than sixty (60) lakes with zebra mussels.
If Pawlenty had done something four years ago, I don’t believe the spread of AIS, specifically zebra mussels, would be expanding at the rate we see today.