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Boaters beware: Aquatic invasive species laws change today, July 1, fines double

Zebra mussels will be the focus of the Lake Darling Area Association's annual meeting on Saturday, August 8, at 10 a.m. at the Arrowwood Resort in the Osakis Room. Coffee and rolls will be served. In addition to the business meeting, guest speaker Nathan Olson of DNR will speak on the zebra mussel problem.

Civil citation fines for violating aquatic invasive species (AIS) laws in Minnesota will double beginning July 1. For example, the fine for transporting a watercraft or water related equipment with attached aquatic plants will go from $50 to $100 and the fine for possessing, or transporting a prohibited invasive species, such as zebra mussels will now be $500.

Watercraft users need to remove all aquatic plants, animals from their watercraft, drain all water and leave all their drain plugs and water draining devices open during transport.

This weekend and throughout the summer, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has considerably ramped up its boat inspections, enforcement efforts and educational campaign to prevent the spread of invasive zebra mussels and other AIS.

About 140 watercraft inspectors will be stationed around the state, checking boats for AIS and advising water users of laws and practices that will keep invasive species from spreading. The DNR will also deploy 23 decontamination units at various water bodies around the state. The agency will concentrate inspectors and decontamination efforts at high-use water bodies that are currently infested with AIS.