The crisp weather signals the approach of winter, and with it, thousands of Minnesotans will be storing their boats, docks, lifts and other water-related equipment until spring.
To assist in the handling and prevention practices of aquatic invasive species (AIS), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) and Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (LMCD) urge residents to consider the following tips and understand the AIS transportation laws in place to keep AIS at bay:
Use Permitted Service Providers
AIS infestations in the state have been caused by improper removal and movement of docks, lifts and other equipment. Minnesota law now requires lakeservice providers—anyone hired to install or remove water-related equipment (including structures) from Minnesota bodies of water—to undergo training on preventing the spread of AIS.
Service providers who have completed this training are issued permits by the DNR and know how to protect other waters from new invasives. The providers will have a yellow sticker displayed on their vehicle (shown at right) and their permit within.
Additionally, all employees will carry a DNR certification card. A list of permitted providers is available online under "Training and Permits."
Self-Transporting of Watercraft, Equipment, or Aquatic Plants
Because it is illegal to transport any watercraft, equipment or aquatic plants carrying AIS away from a body of water, even for storage or repair, individuals must obtain, complete and carry a one-way authorization form from the DNR. The form allows the transporter to legally transport their item to a location where zebra mussels must be removed prior to its final destination.
Specific guidelines are listed within the form; one requires a 21-day drying period before docks, lifts and swim rafts may be placed in other waters. Authorization forms are available online.
Self-Storage of Watercraft and Water-Related Equipment/Structures
Shoreland owners may store their watercraft, equipment and structures on their property (if no transportation is required) and may place them back into the water at the same location next spring without removing zebra mussels.
The state law exempts these actions from the transport and introduction prohibitions. Also, in this situation the 21-day drying period for placement in the water does not apply.
Self-Inspect and Report New Infestations
A quick response to the presence of invasive species can save a water body from infestation. Please check all equipment and structures once they are taken out of the water and report species that are not known to be present in that water body. Take a photo, keep a sample of the specie(s), and report it to the local DNR Invasive Species Specialist.
It is legal to transport suspected AIS to the DNR to report it. To assist in the identification of suspected AIS, please immediately contact MCWD AIS Specialist Eric Fieldseth at 952-471-7873.