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The Department of Natural Resources is adding more than 200 clean-and-drain areas to statewide public water access sites this summer to help boaters combat the spread of aquatic invasive species. (contributed photo)

Clean-and-drain areas introduced at boat launches

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To help boaters prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is adding more than 200 clean-and-drain areas to statewide public water access sites this summer.

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The special areas will act as visual reminders to boaters to clean and drain their boats properly and provide safe and convenient places to do this. Installing components of the clean-and-drain areas at high-use sites on infested waters is a priority.

“Minnesota is the first state in the nation to implement this type of modification at multiple water access sites,” said DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr.

The aim is to put an end to piles of discarded aquatic vegetation and bait that are sometimes left behind on ramps or in parking areas because there weren’t designated places for these materials after they were removed from boats.

Sometimes boaters stop on ramps to pull their boat’s plug. This is unsafe and causes delays and can release harmful species or chemicals into the water.

Components include compost bins (to dispose of aquatic vegetation, unwanted bait, bait bucket water and zebra mussels), and pavement stencils and signs (to delineate activity areas and inform boaters).

The new areas should be used whether or not a watercraft inspector is present.

The following routine should become new protocol for boaters:

• Load boat onto trailer safely and pull forward to boat clean-and-drain area.

• Clean boat by removing plants, zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species from watercraft, trailer, anchor and all water-related equipment.

• Dispose of plants and animals in disposal bin.

• Dump bait bucket water (and unwanted minnows and leeches) into disposal bin. Transfer minnows and leeches to containers prefilled with well, bottled, distilled or purified tap water. Take unwanted worms and garbage to trash, which is often offsite (wanted worms can be saved).

• Drain water from boat, ballast tanks and motor. Drain bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs. Keep drain plugs out and all water-draining devices open for travel.

• Finish tying down the boat and securing equipment for travel.

More information about AIS best management practices for boat launch administrators can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/water_access.html or requested from the DNR information center at 1-888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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