Every year, the state gives counties $10 million to support Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention programs. Dakota County receives about $120,000 of AIS Prevention Aid each year. The County uses this funding to provide education and awareness, inspect and decontaminate watercraft, and give grant funding to lake associations, cities and townships.
Recently, AIS Prevention Aid has allowed Dakota County and the cities of Burnsville and Lakeville to hire AIS watercraft inspectors at Lake Marion, Orchard Lake, Crystal Lake and Lake Byllesby. Inspectors educate boaters, and prevent the spread of any AIS that may be attached to an inbound or outbound watercraft. They inspect equipment by look and feel to determine if there are invasive species attached.
Removal of plants and draining water is typical for most boaters, but some may require a special high-pressure or hot-water cleaning called decontamination to remove and kill invasive species. According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), most inspections are completed in less than three minutes, making them an easy way to prevent the spread of invasive species.
Dakota County purchased a portable decontamination unit, so trained inspectors can remove and kill AIS that may be attached to equipment. For lakes that do not have a unit available, boaters can check the DNR’s webpage for a schedule of dates and locations.
Under state law, inspectors may stop boats from launching if a person refuses to allow an inspection, refuses to remove AIS detected during an inspection, or refuses a mandatory decontamination.
When using Minnesota’s waters, following these rules are critical in preventing the spread of AIS:
- Clean all visible plants, mussels or other prohibited invasive species from boats, trailers and water-related equipment before leaving the water access.
- Drain all water from equipment. This includes drain bilge, live well, ballast tanks, bait containers, and motor. Remove drain plugs before leaving the access, and keep drain plugs out while transporting your watercraft.
- Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. Releasing bait into a waterbody is illegal. If you want to keep your bait, the container must be refilled with bottle or tap water.
If you suspect a new AIS infestation, note the exact location, take a photo, and contact a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources AIS specialist at 651-259-5828.