The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today its new strategies to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species across the state in 2012.
The efforts take a two-pronged approach: to increase inspections and decontamination of boats at and near water bodies, especially those infested with aquatic invasive species; and to increase awareness that the public must do its part not to spread invasive species.
"The DNR cannot be at every boat ramp this summer, making sure boaters, anglers and other water users are not bringing zebra mussels and other invasive species to public waters," said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. "Our message is these waters belong to everyone -- so everyone needs to be responsible for not moving these invaders."
In 2012, the DNR will institute new invasive species check stations, hire more watercraft inspectors, deploy more decontamination units and increase its public awareness efforts -- all to stop the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invaders.
Here is an overview:
ROAD CHECK STATIONS
A new state law gives DNR authority to operate check stations that require motorists transporting boats, trailers and other marine equipment to be inspected for aquatic invasive species.
The check stations, which will begin this year, will route motorists pulling boats or other marine equipment into staging areas, where they will be greeted, and a brief conversation will take place prior to their boats and other water-related equipment being inspected. Among other questions, inspectors will ask where the boat is coming from and how long it has been in the water.
If the boat or water-related equipment fails the inspection, or inspectors believe the boat may be carrying aquatic invasive species, the motorist and boat water related equipment will be directed to an area where high-pressure and hot water will be used to decontaminate the equipment. Conservation officers may also take enforcement action if the motorist or boat owner has not complied with laws prohibiting the transportation of aquatic invasive species.
MORE DECONTAMINATION UNITS
The DNR will purchase 20 high-pressure, hot-water decontamination units that will be operated at zebra mussel infested waters, high-use destination lakes and at DNR Enforcement check points.
These new units will be in addition to the three units purchased and deployed last fall around Detroit Lakes, Alexandria, Brainerd (including Mille Lacs), and the Twin Cities at high-use accesses on zebra mussel infested waters.
The DNR will hire 150 new authorized watercraft inspectors who will be deployed around the state. Three additional invasive species specialists will also be hired to work with lake associations, local units of government and individuals on local prevention and management efforts.
DNR fisheries biologists will team up with the agency's Aquatic Invasive Species Program to conduct watercraft inspection and decontamination demonstrations at five to seven large fishing contests being held on zebra-mussel-infested lakes. The goal is to teach tournament organizers how to lead and implement inspections and decontamination programs at their tournaments and promote prevention efforts among tournaments anglers.
The DNR has created a new decal explaining invasive species laws and procedures boaters should use to not spread the invaders. The decal contains an additional "Check the Drain Plug" decal that can be cut off and placed on the trailer to remind boaters to replace their plug before launching.
Decals will be distributed through boat dealers, DNR offices and state parks and watercraft licensing outlets. Visitors to boating and sports shows can get them from DNR staff starting in mid-January.
NEW EDUCATIONAL VIDEO
With new funding received from the 2011 Legislature, the DNR awarded a $50,000 grant to a local media firm to produce a documentary on aquatic invasive species. The video's purpose is to highlight the threat of invasive species, the laws boaters and water users must follow and what boaters and anglers can do to help prevent their spread. One-thousand DVDs will be available for distribution to the media, lakeshore organizations and other outlets. The video will be posted on the DNR website this spring.