DNR trains boat inspectors to stop invasive species

Fishing opener
The Minnesota DNR is training nearly 150 inspectors to be stationed at boat landings this summer, to try to slow the spread of aquatic invasive species.
AP File Photo/Pioneer Press, Ben Garvin

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is getting ready for the fishing season by training boat inspectors who will spend the summer trying to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The DNR will start the season with 23 decontamination units, each with four inspectors, to cover an 80-hour week, including a lot of hours on weekends.

The DNR's point person on aquatic invasive species, Luke Skinner, said most of the inspection stations will be at lakes already infested with zebra mussels.

"If we focus on those areas and try to get to those boaters leaving, we can be more effective at reducing the risk of spread than spreading out across all the state," Skinner said.

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A few inspectors — without the decontamination units — will be at high-use lakes not yet infested, such as Leech and Cass lakes.

Skinner said most boaters are aware of the rules and will quickly pass inspection.

"It's really for those boats that have been in a long time or come off with things attached that will need to be cleaned and drained," Skinner said.

Fines will double this summer for transporting invasive plants and animals.

Starting in 2015, boaters will need to display a sticker showing they've passed a test on the aquatic invasive species rules.