DNR adds more aquatic invasive species enforcement, says 1 in 5 boaters break the law

Marion Lake access point
An access point at Otter Tail County's Marion Lake.
Dan Gunderson/MPR News

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is adding more roadside checkpoints and stepping up inspections in an effort to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

People are aware of invasive species laws, but take shortcuts and make excuses, said Rodmen Smith, assistant director of the DNR's enforcement division.

"Well that's good enough. There sure are a lot of weeds on there, I got most of 'em, there's only a couple on there," Smith said reciting boaters' common excuses.

"Unfortunately 'a couple on there' isn't good enough," he added. "We need to think zero, because it only takes one piece with a veliger or a zebra mussel on it to start a new infestation."

The law requires boaters and fishermen to clean boats and equipment and drain all water to keep aquatic invasive species from spreading.

Smith says the violation rate at roadside checks was 20 percent last year. That's down from 31 percent in 2012. Still, it means 1 in 5 boaters are breaking the law, the DNR noted.

The agency will double the number of roadside checkpoints this year to 36 in an effort to get to zero violations.

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