Summer visitors reminded to review AIS laws before traveling

July 8, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

As the summer travel season approaches its peak, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds visitors to review aquatic invasive species (AIS) laws before traveling to ensure compliance and avoid a citation.

Stepped up education and enforcement of Minnesota’s AIS laws is intended to protect the state’s more than 10,000 lakes, which play a critical role in attracting anglers and families from across the country for a lakeside vacation.

Nonresident visitors are held to the same standards as Minnesota residents when transporting boats and other water-related equipment, and are also subject to the same citations for violations.

“Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and forests are a big draw for visitors,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism. “It’s important that everyone who enjoys our woods and waters helps protect these natural treasures.”

Minnesota’s boat plug law is now three years old, but is still one of the most common AIS-related violations.

“It’s important for everyone to take the time to read and understand the laws – they may be different than your home state’s AIS laws,” said Ann Pierce, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “Not only do the laws help protect Minnesota waters from new infestations, they are a sound practice to reduce the chance of taking home an unwanted aquatic hitchhiker to your own community.”

Before traveling to Minnesota every boater must:

• Clean all aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited invasive species from boats and trailers.

• Drain water from boat, bait buckets and motor; drain livewell and bilge by removing drain plugs; and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.

In Minnesota is it illegal to:

• Transport watercraft without the drain plug removed.

• Arrive at lake access with drain plug in place.

• Transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels, or other prohibited species, whether dead or alive.

• Launch watercraft with prohibited species attached.

• Transport water from Minnesota lakes or rivers.

• Release live bait into the water.

More information about Minnesota’s AIS laws is posted on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/ais.

Resorts, chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, and lake associations may also provide trip-planning information and links to AIS laws.

MN waters are moving fast
From the DNR

Water levels in lakes and rivers around Minnesota were expected to remain high during the Fourth of July holiday, so the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging boaters to slow down and use caution.

A no-wake zone is in effect on the St. Croix River from Taylors Falls to Prescott, Wis. In Hennepin County, both Fish Lake and Medicine Lake have declared high water.

“People should always wear their lifejackets every time they step on a boat and especially during high water,” said Kara Owens, DNR boating safety specialist. “High water levels mean a fast and strong moving current, which many boat operators are not used to. That can create dangerous situations.”

There is a lot of debris floating down the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers so that adds another element of danger.

“Debris will often float just at or below the surface,” Owens said. “Hitting a log at high speed could result in anything from a broken propeller to a ruined lower unit – or worse, serious injuries to those who wanted to enjoy a day on the water.”
Boaters must always be aware of their surroundings.

Fast river currents are more unforgiving and boaters have less of a time to react to a problem, she added.

The swift current also makes it more difficult for even an experienced swimmer to swim or stay afloat if their boat or canoe capsized.

Anyone heading out on the water should let someone know where they are going and when they expect to return from their trip.

During periods of high water on lakes and rivers, boaters also need to slow down and make sure their wakes are small.

A large wake could not only disrupt other boaters and swimmers, but also cause erosion along the shoreline.

It can create safety concerns, damage to boats and other problems from deadheads and snags, shoreline property loss, reduced water quality and damage to fish and wildlife habitat.

For more information on boating safety go to http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/index.html.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) spent most of the week checking anglers and boaters on area lakes.
Several TIP call were investigated for over limit and individuals leaving carp along shorelines of area lakes.
Reller also worked boating enforcement for operation dry water.
Enforcement action was taken for minor consumption, not wearing PFD on PWC, failure to have PFD on board watercraft, angling without license, angling with extra lines, litter, and no watercraft registration.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) assisted with a kids fishing event in Brooklyn Park with district 13 officers.
Area lake outlets were checked for proper water flowage.
The water levels on all lakes is very high with docks under water.
Several anglers bow fishing for carp were checked and reminded to dispose of them properly.
A boat and water detail was worked on Lake Minnetonka with District 13 officers.
He met with Carver County fair board members on bringing the Wall of Shame to the fair in August.
A “take a kid fishing” event was set up for Lake Waconia in July.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) worked Lake Minnetonka during the Operation Dry Water weekend. Numerous violations were encountered.
She also participated in a media event regarding the ODW weekend on the St. Croix River.
She worked on the St. Croix River for the Stillwater bridge project and helped with a kids fishing event in Brooklyn Park with other local law enforcement officers.
An AIS conference call was also completed.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) investigated a complaint of carp that were taken by bow and left at the public access.
She followed up on a TIP call regarding a possible over limit of crappies in a freezer.
Mueller worked with the DNR intern over the weekend and participated in Operation Dry Water.
There was high compliance with boaters and PWCs in regards to boat operation and water regulations.
Many Panda awards were given out over the weekend to youth wearing their PFD while in the boat.
Time was also spent over the weekend enforcing AIS rules and regulations.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked a boating enforcement detail this past weekend.
Oberg reports very good boating law and AIS compliance this week.
Oberg also spent time dealing with a few nuisance animal calls including issuing a special beaver permit.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Are there statewide rules about where I can place my dock?

A: Statewide rules do not specify where a dock needs to be placed.

However, there are a few rules to keep in mind.

You need to own or control the land from which your dock originates, avoid posted fish spawning areas, and you cannot install a dock that obstructs navigation or creates a water safety hazard.

Docks and lifts should be placed so that mooring and maneuvering of your watercraft can normally be confined within your property lines as if they were extended into the water perpendicular to the shoreline.

Due to the curvature of some shorelines and the configuration of lots, sometimes property lines extending into the water can run at angles rather than perpendicular to the shoreline.

When the shoreline curve is tight, the water level low, or an additional dock is installed, conflict can be minimized by the dock owners working together to arrive at the best placement, or possible sharing of a common dock.

There are some counties and communities around the state that have adopted ordinances that regulate lot line setbacks and other aspects of dock placement.

Your local planning and zoning office should be able to answer questions about local restrictions on dock placement.

For more information about docks and access in public waters, go to: http://go.usa.gov/VD7.