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Continued: DNR targets tainted boats violating invasive species law

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 11, 2014 - 5:46 AM

The risk of not emptying out water or removing weeds can mean spreading zebra mussels, which can attach to boats, docks, rocks, native clams and other solid surfaces, proliferating by the millions. They grow only to fingernail size, but can clutter beaches with razor-sharp shells, clog motors, change habitat for fish and insects, and jam intake pipes for water and power plants. And while they’re the poster child for the invasion, there are many more species not yet in Minnesota.

The DNR announcements about the discovery of invasive species in a new body of water have become almost routine. Recently, zebra mussels were detected in Lake Melissa — the first confirmed sighting in the Detroit Lakes area, a popular summer destination for boaters and anglers. Infested waters also include popular lakes in the Brainerd area, Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Creek.

In May, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a tax bill for an additional $10 million per year to help local governments combat zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.

But some boaters, including Bill Bennett of Plymouth are skeptical, worried that the efforts come too late.

“I thought it looked like they were turning it [enforcement] into a moneymaker because they have long lost the lakes,” he said of being cited for having a weed on his boat even after he did a thorough check.

However, he said, he supports the efforts, especially after hearing about cases like a boater headed to Voyageurs National Park, near the Boundary Waters, with a wakeboard that had yet to be decontaminated from two months on Lake Minnetonka.

“Overall, I hope it’s well intended,” he said of enforcement. “I don’t want the Boundary Waters to get screwed up.”


Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141


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  • The DNR’s Joe Hale, left, and Ben Troop scrubbed dead zebra mussels off a boat after the owner was fined $300 at Grays Bay boat ramp Thursday.

  • At left, dead zebra mussels were displayed at a news conference Thursday.

  • Julie Siems of the DNR demonstrated the abilities of a zebra mussel-sniffing dog on Thursday at Riverfront Regional Park.

  • DNR inspector Joe Hale scrubbed dead zebra mussels off a contaminated boat at Lake Minnetonka.

  • In Minnesota, it is illegal to:

    • Transport watercraft without removing the drain plug.

    • Arrive at a lake access with drain plug in place.

    • Transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels or other prohibited species, whether dead or alive.

    • Launch watercraft with prohibited species attached.

    • Transport water from Minnesota lakes or rivers.

    • Release live bait into the water.

    VIOLATION RATE of boaters

    31 percent of boaters were found to have violated state law in 2012

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