MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) – We’re heading towards Memorial Day weekend and coming with it is sun and warmer temperatures.
It’s got boaters and anglers looking forward to getting out on the boat. It also makes for the perfect time for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to remind people about boat safety and to “Think Zero.” Officers were out at Lake Minnetonka Tuesday morning with tips on how to stay safe and help protect the state’s lakes from aquatic invasive species.
Officers will be out all over Minnesota this weekend for Memorial Day inspections. They’ll be checking before you go in and when you come out of public access points making sure boat drains are cleaned, disposing of unwanted bait and looking to keep invasive species out of the state’s waters.
DNR officials said they have already cited at least 40 boaters this year who either entered or left Minnesota lakes with zebra mussels on their boats or equipment. Boaters can be fined up to $1,000 for having an aquatic invasive species on their boat.
“It’s impacting the water quality by stripping it of whatever the food source is for the fish to survive in and they’re out competing against other native species that we have including our native mussels,” said Lt. Adam Block with the DNR.
To combat the issue, the DNR’s checkpoints along roads near lakes has nearly doubled this year across Minnesota.
They also said there has already been one boating death this year.
The DNR said lakes that are known to have issues with aquatic invasive species will have signs posted to keep people aware.
It also is the perfect time of the year to remind people about general water safety as we head into a holiday weekend. Authorities are urging boaters to be safe, sober and wear life jackets as they head out to the lake.