Inspectors will have a strong presence on popular lakes when the new fishing season begins.
Anglers planning to launch their boats at some of the state's most popular fishing lakes on Saturday when the 2012 inland walleye and northern pike seasons open may encounter Department of Natural Resources aquatic invasive species (AIS) inspectors.
Anglers are especially likely to find inspectors at the state's largest and most heavily used fishing lakes that also are infested with zebra mussels.
These include Mille Lacs, Minnetonka, Gull and Pelican, among others.
As many as 23 portable decontamination machines also will be deployed by the DNR next weekend. The units will be staffed at least 16 hours a day.
One decontamination unit with inspectors will be stationed near Lake Waconia, where the governor will fish.
Certified inspectors can require anglers to clean their boats or have them decontaminated, if necessary. Boaters who refuse to comply can be denied launching privileges.
The stepped up enforcement is part of the DNR's intensified effort to keep zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species from spreading throughout the state.
"We've been training DNR employees to be inspectors, and also are developing joint powers agreements with 14 units of government and are training their inspectors," said Jim Japs, assistant director of the DNR's water management section.
The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, Douglas County and Otter Tail County are among DNR cooperators who have their own AIS inspectors.
In all, about 80 boat inspectors will be at lake and river accesses next weekend. Included will be 54 Level 1 inspectors, and as many as 43 Level 2 inspectors.
Both can inspect boats, but only Level 2 inspectors are trained to operate decontamination units.
The DNR is in the process of hiring more Level 1 inspectors at $10 per hour. (If interested, go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/jobs/watercraft.index.html.)
Boat decontamination can take from 10 minutes to a half-hour, Japs said. The process is free. But it's possible private contractors will enter the business in the future, and boat owners could be charged for the procedure.
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