The Hubbard County Environmental Services Department provides a free service: watercraft decontamination.
Anyone concerned about the potential of carrying aquatic invasive species (AIS) on their watercraft — boats, motors, trailers, anchors and ropes — can use this service.
The station is located at 812 Henrietta Ave. S, between the Detail Shop and transfer station.
BillDonCarlos, Hubbard County AIS Program Coordinator, encourages it use.
"We had over 100 use the station in 2016 and are on track to the same in 2017. We would like to do more," he said.
Appointments are available seven days a week by calling 252-6738. The watercraft decontamination station keeps regular hours — noon to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays — from May fishing opener through mid-September.
Chris Tennant is one of three certified decontamination personnel available in Park Rapids to assist visitors and area residents. Tennant decontaminated one of my boats recently after a fishing outing on Long Lake, a body of water recently discovered to have faucet snails.
The response to meet me at the station was quick and cordial. After asking a few questions the process began. Tennant started with the live and bait wells.
"We use 120-degree water to flush live and bait wells without damage to pipes and pumps, 140-degree water for the boat and trailer," Tennant explained. "Powerful water pressure is used to flush off the total exterior of the boat and trailer. Every area on the exterior of the boat and trailer is sprayed thoroughly to ensure the hot water wash stays on the surface 10 seconds or more."
"We don't do the interior of the boat, but do an excellent job on the exterior," DonCarlos says.
According to local watercraft inspector and angler Jeff Mosner, "Boaters are encouraged to get their boats decontaminated before launching, especially if they are coming from an infested lake. The hot water they use will kill any zebra mussels and the high pressure removes other invasive species. I am always gratified to talk to boaters who have taken advantage of this free service."
With fall fishing in full swing, his advice is to clean the boat before heading home for the day. There's no better time than when the boat on the trailer and hooked up.
The total cleaning process takes about 15 minutes, from bow to stern.
Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to do the following:
• Clean watercraft of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species,
• Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport, and
• Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
As boat owners begin taking boats and equipment out of the water for the season, the DNR reminds them to carefully check for AIS and contact the DNR with any suspected new infestations. Look on the posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats, pontoons and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period.
Minnesota law requires that docks and lifts be allowed to dry for at least 21 days before being placed in another body of water, whether aquatic invasive species are present or not.
People should contact an area DNR AIS specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species that has not already been confirmed in a lake. More information is available at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.
All that use the waters of Minnesota share in the responsibility to do what is necessary to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Decontamination of any watercraft is easy and a simple means to keep those unwanted invasive species off watercraft and out of Minnesota waters.
Hubbard County's decontamination station and others around the entire state of Minnesota are listed on the DNR's website at https://webapps15.dnr.state.mn.us/ais_decon_sites.