That’s zero new aquatic invasive species (AIS) infestations in lakes and rivers. That’s zero AIS law violations by boaters.
The DNR unveiled its new slogan to fight AIS last week. The state agency is encouraging everyone who uses lakes and rivers to “think zero.”
“Boating season is just around the corner. It’s time to begin the season of talking of efforts to prevent and curb the spread of aquatic invasive species,” said Chris Niskanen, DNR communications director in St. Paul.
“Aquatic invasive species continues to be one of our biggest conservation challenges, and addressing aquatic invasive species takes the commitment of everyone,” added Ann Pierce, section manager for the DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division.
DNR officials reiterated that it only takes a few minutes for people to follow the laws to prevent the spread of AIS:
• Be sure your boat, trailer and equipment are free of aquatic plants.
• Be sure water is drained from live wells and bait buckets.
• Be sure your boat’s drain plug is removed.
When ice does finally melt, temperatures warm and people start putting docks and boats lifts back into lakes and rivers, they are urged to hire trained lake service providers who know how to look for AIS, like zebra mussels, and how to prevent the spread of AIS.
More than 1,000 such providers in the state have received training, and they are listed on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.
The DNR will have lake access monitors, as in past years, to ensure people are following AIS laws. The DNR also will increase roadside check stations from 18 last year to 36 this year throughout the state, and will use canines trained to sniff out zebra mussels.
Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division assistant director, said people are aware of AIS laws.
“People know what they’re supposed to do,” Smith said. “What we’re finding is people either forget to pull their plug, or they have the attitude that, ‘That’s good enough. I got most of the weeds and there’s only a couple on there.’
“Unfortunately, a couple on there isn’t good enough. We need to think zero. Zero aquatic vegetation on our trailers. Zero water. If you remove all the weeds and you pull your plug and drain all your water out of your bait buckets, it doesn’t take that long. It comes down to personal responsibility.”
While the DNR found the AIS violation rate dropped to 20 percent in 2013 from 31 percent in 2012, it reports that one in five boaters is still breaking the law. The violation rate is the proportion of people who were issued citations at roadside check stations that DNR conservation officers set up.
Nancy Vogt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at facebook.com/PEJNancy and on Twitter @PEJ_Nancy.