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Great Lakes Article:

Ordinance eyed to thwart zebra mussels
By Bill Novak and Aaron Nathans
The Capital Times
01/02/04


Boaters would have to clean their hulls to prevent zebra mussels from migrating or face fines under a new ordinance being proposed for Dane County's waterways.

Keeping the rapidly spreading zebra mussel out of our lakes is a high priority, said County Executive Kathleen Falk.

"We need to try to prevent zebra mussels from getting a foothold in our beautiful lakes," Falk said. "They can cluster together to severely impact water intake facilities, fishing and boating, beaches and the natural balance of the lakes."

The ordinance proposed by the commission would prohibit placing watercraft, equipment or trailers in the waters of Dane County if there were reason to believe that zebra mussels were attached.

Boaters would be required to remove aquatic plants and animals from boats and equipment before launching or leaving, before draining lake or river water on land, and before properly disposing of live bait.

First time violators could be fined $50 or could be subject to a $100 fine for repeat offenses.

Don Hammes, a Middleton fisherman, said this morning that local anglers would probably support the proposed ordinance.

"The invasion of zebra mussels into the lake system would not be a very good thing to happen, because the population of those zebra mussels can expand quite rapidly," Hammes said.

"I think the fishermen and fisherwomen are more alert to the need to combat this than perhaps people that just have a pleasure boat, a large speedboat," he added. "Very often those people travel from Lake Geneva to Lake Michigan to Lake Mendota, and somewhere along the way, pick up some weeds that are infected with zebra mussels."

In 2001 and 2002, individual zebra mussels were found in Lake Monona but there are no established populations of zebra mussels in the state yet.

The Lakes and Watershed Commission is also considering a shoreland zoning change to make erosion control provisions consistent with the countywide erosion control requirement found in the existing ordinance.

"It's important for landowners and developers to have predictable, consistent procedures and standards to follow when doing work near our important waters," said Sue Jones, lakes and watershed management coordinator.

Comments about the new shoreland zoning change will be taken at the same public hearing set for the zebra mussel ordinance.

Background information and the text of the draft ordinances is available on the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission Web site at www.countyofdane.com/commissions/lakes/

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