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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