Invasive species fight goes too far, some lawmakers say

Invasive species alert
There are enhanced penalties for boaters who don't remove vegetation and drain water after using a lake infested with invasive plants or animals. Some lawmakers say that is akin to government overreach.
MPR File Photo/Dan Gunderson

Some lawmakers say the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource's plan to slow the spread of invasive species like zebra mussels and Asian carp impinge on the rights of boat owners.

The DNR's plan includes mandatory inspections at boat launches, higher penalties for failing to clean boats and docks when moving them from lake to lake, and allowing local governments to conduct inspections.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, says it's government overreach.

"The approach is one that creates more government and takes away individual liberties to operate boats on waters," Drazkowski said. "It's full of enforcement and it's full of sanctions to boat owners in order to apparently accomplish the objectives."

Drazkowski called for more educational efforts.

But DFL Rep. Steve Persell of Bemidji said the advance of destructive non-native species is a problem that individuals can't solve. He said it requires government action.

"We own those resources. We're all responsible for them," Persell said. "If we don't come together and manage these resources in the best interest of everybody in our state and everybody that comes to our state and recreates here, then the legacy we're leaving our kids and grandkids is just abysmal."

The DNR said if everyone obeyed existing laws, zebra mussels would not spread any farther. The agency wants a combination of education and stiffer fines.

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