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Otter Tail Lake using high-tech gear to keep aquatic hitchhikers out of the lake

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Otter Tail, MN (WDAY TV) - Lakes that haven't yet been infested - they are getting proactive and creative to keep it that way. 

Bernie Steeves has called the crystal waters of Otter Tail Lake home for the past 22 years.

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Bernie Steeves/Otter Tail Lakes Property Owners Assoc.: “It's a very active lake, a lot of homes here, a lot of cabin people, a lot of year-round people and it's just a beautiful lake for year-round.”

Right now, it's free of Zebra Mussels and Water milfoil.

But with the growing risk of infestation, Steeves and the Lakes Association wanted a 24-hour way to monitor boats potentially carrying those harmful invaders. 

Steeves: “If we don't control the AIS, which is aquatic invasive species, we're going to actually damage the lake environment.”

Now, Otter Tail Lake is the first in Northwestern Minnesota to install this I-LIDS camera system. 

This little motion-activated camera runs off of solar power. It then transmits the captured video -- via 3G -- and the Lake Association can catch those aquatic hitchhikers online.

Eric Lindberg/Environmental Sentry Protection: “You have to be daylight inspecting the boats, so we designed a system to do automated inspection and education whenever a boater launches into a lake.”

Infested lakes can lower property value by 13% and cost county's thousands of dollars every year in water management.   

So the Otter Tail Lakes Association thinks an $8,000 camera system is a small price to pay for a little peace of mind.

Steeves: “The economy of Otter Tail County depends upon these lakes and if these lakes are being used, and the property values go down, that affects everybody in Otter Tail County.”

Steeves: “It's a great resource for the county to have and we want to preserve it.”

If you're caught launching your boat with weeds or mussels attached, you'll be slammed with a $200 fine.

The DNR asks boaters to clean and drain their boats and appropriately dispose of any unwanted bait.

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