Minnesota Steps Up Fight Against Invasive Species

Minnesota Steps Up Fight Against Invasive Species
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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has unveiled its new plan for fighting the spread of aquatic invasive species across the state in 2012.There will be a two-pronged approach to the new strategy: firstly, 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

Thanks to a new state law, motorists trasporting boats, trailers and other marine equipment can be inspected at check stations by the DNR authorities.The check stations will route motorists pulling boats or other marine equipment into staging areas, where they will be greeted and asked questions concerning 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 their boat and 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.

Additional Staff

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.

Fishing Tournaments

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.

New Decal

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.For more environmentally-related news, click here.
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