This summer, to help combat the spread of aquatic invasive species, the Department of Natural Resources is increasing the number of watercraft checkpoints to 36, double the number from last year.
The DNR also expects to hire 146 watercraft inspectors and place 23 decontamination units at zebra mussel infested waters and high-use areas. Up to 300 additional authorized inspectors will be working for tribal and local government units throughout the state.
“These folks are going to be out there checking boats, trailers and other water equipment this summer,” said Maj. Phil Meier, DNR Enforcement Division operations manager. “It’s their job. They aren’t there to cause a delay, but to keep invasive species from entering our lakes and rivers.”
The DNR’s watercraft inspection program is designed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by educating boaters, inspecting watercraft and providing decontamination services at public water accesses.
All DNR-trained watercraft inspectors are authorized to help ensure boats and trailers are clean and free of AIS before entering or leaving a lake, river or other body of water. They will show boaters where aquatic plants and animals are likely to hide, and how to remove them.
Whether they work for the DNR, or for a county organization or lake association, inspectors are there to help make sure boaters are not in violation of AIS laws.
If someone refuses to allow an inspection, or doesn’t remove aquatic plants or animals, DNR trained inspectors can prohibit the launching or operation of water-related equipment. Authorized inspectors can also require a watercraft to be decontaminated prior to launching into Minnesota waters.
In the rare situation when an individual does not follow instructions from a watercraft inspector before launching or leaving an access, inspectors are advised to contact the local conservation officer to report violations.
“Please work with them; it’s required by law,” said Ann Pierce, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division section manager. “Your cooperation will make it go faster and help everyone get in and out more quickly. All watercraft inspectors are trained by the DNR, and working in scheduled locations. If you have problems with them, let us know.”