Minnesota DNR Facing Lawsuit Over Zebra Mussels

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Three lake associations representing Lake Bavaria, Christmas Lake, and Lotus Lake are suing the Commissioner of the DNR, Tom Landwehr. They say he’s not doing enough to keep the destructive zebra mussels out of their lakes.

The plaintiffs want route boats to Lake Minnewashta, so they can be inspected before entering the lakes, but, the DNR says, that’s not something they can do right now.

“On this particular case, we don’t have the legal authority to force boaters to meet at the central location before they launch, we can inspect boats on the launch site, but not at an offsite location,” said Chris Niskanen, Communications Director for the DNR.

The plaintiffs argue that’s not true. They cite a Minnesota law, which states:

“Conservation officers or other licensed peace officers may utilize check stations in locations, or in proximity to locations, where watercraft or other water-related equipment is placed into or removed from waters of the state.”

“We wouldn’t have gone this far if we didn’t think they had the authority,” said Joe Shneider, one of the plaintiffs named in the suit and the president of the Christmas Lake Homeowners Association.

The plaintiffs and the DNR are after very similar things. The DNR wants to stop the spread of zebra mussels as much as anyone, but the suit really comes down to a matter of timing.

“There is a bill in the legislature right now that would give us the authority to do the sort of thing they’re suggesting in this lawsuit,” said Niskanen.

In fact, the bill is almost a mirror image of what the plaintiffs are asking for, but they say, they can’t afford to wait.

“Even if they could convince the legislature, will they be ready to get this implemented for the 2012 boating season? And we don’t believe they have a very high likelihood of that,” said Shneider.

More from Matt Brickman
  • G Dog

    Spoiled rich folks in the Western Suburbs with nothing better to do than file a lawsuit because their personal playground has been soiled.

    • Jealous much?

      What ridiculous/immature response. :-(
      Minnesota’s lakes belong to ALL of us and ALL of us need to be good stewards/take care of them. :-)

      Education is the key.
      Not only can they attach and be transported, but in their larval stage the* ZM’s are virtually invisible!
      *Zebra mussel larvae (veligers) are about the diameter of a human hair and are so small you can’t see them without a microscope.

      You ‘G Dog’ need to be an educator…not a hater!

    • Mike

      uh no, it represents the failure of gov’t officials…. there seems to be a large rash of gov’t failures, state and national level

  • Carl

    I would like to sue the DNR because an improper amount of rain fell.

    In the meantime, we will gate the lakes to keep people out even though by law natural resources are shared by all.

  • Laurie

    Wow, you guys are both right! Who cares about the lakes anyhow? Why should we protect Minnesota’s lakes? They have nothing to do with the economy or way of life here, do they? Who cares what’s left for our grandkids? I say, if someone wants to go boating in an infested lake, then launch in a clean lake, they should have the right to pollute as much as they want – right? Grow up.

    • Luke

      I think you are missing their point. Obviously nobody wants lakes polluted, or infested, but you don’t sue the DNR if it happens.

      How will suing the DNR help? Now the DNR has to spend money in court instead of on the programs these people supposedly wanted in the first place.

      • Laurie

        I agree with you Luke, nobody wants the lakes to be polluted. But the fact is that they ARE being polluted, and one by one, we are losing the lakes to zebra mussels. Here is an interesting link that shows how they are spreading across the U.S.: http://www.nationalatlas.gov/dynamic/dyn_zm.html

        Soon, it will be a different AIS infesting the lakes, not just zebra mussels.

        Poeple who have taken the time to educate themselves on this topic know that the DNR is woefully underfunded to police the entire state and all of it’s lakes. It is a massive undertaking. But, what the DNR clearly could do, is take a leadership role, and provide Cities, Counties, and Watersheds with information about how they could effectively and economically prevent, not just slow, AIS spread. This is what has been lacking.


    All I can say to the DNR is what the bully on the Simpsons has to say to Bart. HA HA!!

  • Liquid Nails

    That’s like suing Paul Douglas because of a drought.

  • R

    News flash……biologists have found zebra mussels in goose and duck feathers…on flying birds….how will gates prevent them from flying from one like to another….sad mess humans have created…..at least we can fish the flying carp into extinction..like we have almost done with whales…zebra mussels….not!

    • Mike

      @ R

      Again, another government failure!!! The US Fish and Wildlife, in Louisiana, brought the flying carp in to study the control of another species. Well, Huricane Katrina came along and the carp escaped from their holding ponds and surprise!!! Welcome to Minnesota…. Thanks Big Gov’t

      • Mike

        BTW… How long did it take for Big Gov’t to repond to Huricane Katrina??!! Even after the State of Louisiana told the federal governement for 3 days they did not need their help?

  • James

    I think the real item of interest here is that the DNR failed to prevent the spread of zebra muscles, exactly as stated. Because they’ve failed, they’ve demonstrated that it is not possible to prevent the spread of zebra muscles, no matter what you do. These things can be transported by ducks, other birds, wildlife, etc.

    This lawsuit is to provide funding to basically close off access to the lakes by anyone not approved to be on the lakes via a private boat inspection. I’m sorry, but that’s too bad Chanhassen.

    In reality, the DNR need to be disbanded. Their duties of protecting the spread of invasive species will never be fulfilled and any attempt at doing so is a disastrous waste of tax money. The general population of Minnesota has no interest in protecting the property value of a few lake home owners, nor do they have the right to prevent the general public from accessing the lakes in Minnesota.

    What’s clear is that the DNR have no business chasing these pipe dreams. They need to be disbanded and have their sources of public funding frozen indefinitely, period.

    • kim

      I’m pretty sure that the DNR’s responsibilities are more than trying to control invasive species. Disbanding them because they have not been able to do what even you have pointed out is an impossible task is a rather extreme option.

    • Liquid Nails

      Agree. They seem to be good at shooting every animal that enters the metro area however. “Look..a bear, give me that rifle”

  • Squirting Liberal

    Oh this makes me so angry! Just leave these zebra mussels alone! You are all bullies! I swear if you dont leave them alone I will track you down at the lake and I will “toss” my red (for my anger) glitter all over you, your boat, and your dog spike! Grrrrr hello spike! Ruff means ruff!

  • do do

    These are the once private lakes of the minnetonka rich, I suggest they get off there ass and inspect them boats thereselve’s, instead of demanding tax money for “THERE” lakes…….Remember about 10 years ago when they sued to prevent the public from being able to use “there” lakes……

  • SK

    It is the fisherman’s responsibility to check the boat. Not the DNR. I lived by Xmas lake for years. These people ride the short bus.

  • Boater

    I had my boat inspected at a DNR “checkpoint” near Forest Lake a few years ago. The “inspector” said she really didn’t know what she was supposed to be looking for. I helped her out, pointing to what I have learned thru websites and the news. My boat was clean and she got a little education that day. Is the DNR actually training their people or just giving them handouts to read?

  • G Dog

    I hit a golf ball out of bounds yesterday. I blame the government.

  • John

    Education/understanding is key regardless of your position on the subject•

    The battleground for zebra mussels in 2012 is Minnesota. Every state east of us has lost the war. Urgency is required to protect Minnesota lakes from zebra mussels in 2012, especially those in close proximity to the big infested lakes of Minnetonka, Mille Lacs, and Gull.
    • The only known successful strategy is 100% inspection prior to launching a boat. Lake Tahoe has kept zebra mussels out for 4 years with 100% inspection. It is not a guarantee, but it has the best chance of preventing the spread.
    • The DNR is asking the legislature to specifically authorize this multi-lake inspection model right now, in this session of the legislature., so why wait??• Gates are not new… every state park has gates, every county park has gates, every Three Rivers Park District park has gates, do you complain about those gates??
    • Gates are simply a cost-effective solution to ensuring that un-inspected boats are not allowed in the lake. You could do that same task with a person, but the gates pay for themselves in one year and there is virtually no cost in future years, unlike people who need to be paid every year, plus you would be able to properly educate the inspectors at a few central sites
    • There are many more aquatic invasive species coming. Zebra mussels just happen to be the current poster child for AIS. Don’t get lulled into thinking we have only one AIS putting our public waters at risk.- we try to minimize the growth/spread of mosiquotos
    • The experts believe that birds and other waterfowl are simply NOT a significant concern for the transfer of AIS from one lake to another.
    • Protecting our waters for future generations is stewardship. Ignoring the risks and living for today is selfish

  • http://www.lakescientist.com/2012/minn-dnr-sued-for-poor-zebra-mussel-control Minn. DNR sued for poor zebra mussel control | Lake Scientist

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