Smith: Too many don't obey laws vs. invasives

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 28, 2012 - 8:43 PM

Despite an accelerated effort this summer to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species in Minnesota lakes -- including stiffer fines, more boat inspections and widespread publicity -- many boaters continue to violate the law.

So far this summer, about 16 percent of the 12,000 boaters checked by Department of Natural Resources conservation officers have been cited for not passing inspections.

That's a slight improvement from mid-June, when noncompliance was about 20 percent -- a figure officials then called unacceptable.

But the violation rate at DNR random roadside check stations, begun midsummer, is more than 35 percent, said Phil Meier, DNR enforcement division operations manager.

"We don't really have an understanding of why there's that big of a difference," he said. Noncompliance at some stops has exceeded 50 percent, he said.

"Obviously 1 percent is too high," Meier said.

So far, the DNR has issued 1,977 citations and warnings, more than double the 850 issued all of last year.

"We're going to keep doing what we can do to stop the spread," Meier said. "Hopefully our actions are making a difference."

But critics of the state's efforts say the noncompliance figures -- and the continued spread of species such as zebra mussels to ever more lakes -- show that it's too little, too late.

In 2009, there were 16 lakes and four rivers infested with zebra mussels. Today, those numbers are up to 29 lakes and nine rivers, including Gilbert Pit, a mine pit lake on the Iron Range that officials announced Tuesday was infested.

"That tells me their program isn't working," said Terry Kalil, vice president of the Becker County Coalition of Lake Associations.

"Yeah, I'm frustrated," she said. "This is an epidemic."

Kalil said the DNR's 23 decontamination units -- which use high-pressure, hot-water washers -- have cleaned only 774 boats thus far. "That's just 33 per unit, over a 60-day period -- one boat every other day," she said.

But, said Jim Japs of the DNR, "Low numbers are good because that shows a high level of compliance." Only boats with invasive species on them are being decontaminated, he said.

Meanwhile, Kalil said some have wrongly pitted anglers against lakeshore owners.

"It's Minnesota's problem, and we need to fix it," she said.

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Marshall 52 FINAL
Northern Ill 23
Navy 17 FINAL
San Diego St 16
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close