DNR cracking down on aquatic invasive species
Weeds, grass and zebra mussels. These are among the list of unwanted guests the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are trying to avoid boaters taking home with them. They say aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels poses a huge problem to the overall health of a lake and it’s up to us to help prevent their invasion.
DNR central region enforcement manager, Greg Salo, says, “All of Minnesota is not infested. People need to understand that it’s a very small percentage of lakes realistically. It sounds like a lot because you have big bodies of water. But it’s still worth the fight. There’s a lot of our lakes that are not infested and we have to do our part as citizens to keep them from being infested.”
They say a little bit of care and extra time can prevent the spread of these invasive species.
Ann Pierce, Ecological and Water Resources section manager, says, “It doesn’t take that long to take this responsibility. All you need to do is make sure your boat is clean. You’ve taken off all the aquatic plants and animals. You’ve taken off all the mud. You’ve drained all the water out of your bait buckets; you’ve pulled all the plugs from the back of your boats and any other place where there are plugs. And that you dispose of your bait.”
But making sure just your boat is clean isn’t enough to prevent invasive species from spreading. It takes the lake community to ensure the safety and health of the lake.
Don Lewandowski, boater from Sartell, Minnesota, says, “They didn’t want outside boats coming on that lake, because you’re bringing in, the possibility of bringing in milfoil and mussels, zebra mussels. ”
The DNR says so far this summer they’ve found over 1,300 violations with aquatic plants or animals on their boats or equipment. They say tickets for a violation range between $100 and $500 dollars.
Salo says, “The most common violation we’re seeing is failing to remove the drain plug. And that drain plug has to stay out during transport. It was our number one violation last year, it’s our number one violation this year.”
The DNR says Minnesota has 175 bodies of water invested with zebra mussels and most of them have signs indicating they do.
For more information about aquatic invasive species in Minnesota go to DNR’s website: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/aquatic/index.html