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Carp Solutions could make progress on Lake Okabena's carp problem, watershed board hopes

“Do they respond to bait? They’re really hard to catch in Lake Okabena for some reason."

FILE PHOTO: Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District Administrator Dan Livdahl uses an antenna and radio in a prior effort to track carp in Sunset Bay in this July 13, 2019 file photo.
FILE PHOTO: Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District Administrator Dan Livdahl uses an antenna and radio in a prior effort to track carp in Sunset Bay in this July 13, 2019 file photo.
(Julie Buntjer / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Carp can swim, but the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District Board of Managers is hoping they can’t hide from an upcoming carp population survey in Lake Okabena.

The board has hired Carp Solutions, established in 2015 as a University of Minnesota start-up, to conduct three days of electrofishing, capturing carp, marking them and tagging them before returning them to the lake. The company will then use box nets and the tags to determine their feeding pattern, which in turn will be used to bait, euthanize and remove carp from the lake.

“The Carp Solutions people really are the experts,” said Dan Livdahl, watershed administrator.

The cost is not to exceed $31,162, a price which does not include the cracked corn to be used as carp bait, nor for volunteers to bait the carp and dispose of them.

“It’s a lot of money, but it’s actually less than I thought it might be,” Livdahl said, later adding that most likely, many fishers would volunteer to help out because they’d enjoy seeing the process.

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Carp are an invasive species known for their negative effects on water quality, as they disrupt shallow-rooted plants as they feed, muddying the water and releasing algae-fueling phosphorus, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Potential funding sources for the project include the E.O. Olson Trust as well as money set aside in previous years.

Livdahl encouraged the board to check out the Carp Solutions website, which features video of an automated carp removal system involving a conveyor belt, though that would cost too much to install in Lake Okabena.

“Really the question is… how many fish we have. Do they respond to bait? They’re really hard to catch in Lake Okabena for some reason,” Livdahl said.

Carp Solutions will complete the electrofishing between July and October.

In other news Tuesday, the board:

  • Discussed the possibility of putting a dirt trail for biking on a 19-acre parcel between East Lake Boulevard and Minnesota 60, east of Buss Field. Livdahl and Manager Jay Milbrandt will investigate the matter further and report back to the board.
  • Agreed to open a business checking account at First State Bank Southwest, after agreeing in a previous meeting that the organization would prefer to have an account with a local bank.
  • Approved permits for Gary Linder to complete shoreline repair; stormwater pollution prevention plans for Ocheda Dairy’s planned expansion projects; the city of Worthington’s street and utilities improvements on Eighth Avenue; and DK Buildings’ construction of new homes on East Avenue near the intersection of Nobles County 5.
READ MORE FROM KARI LUCIN

A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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