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Grassroots group blames DNR for not decontaminating boats

The DNR granted a permit for a 100-boat fishing tournament this weekend on Pelican Lake, but said "no" to a grass roots group wanting to set up a machine to decontaminate boats.

Anglers can tell you zebra mussels are reproductive machines. A female can reproduce up to a million in a year! That's why the Becker County Lakes Association wanted to bring in a machine to prevent the spread of them.

Just when they getting ready to use it, they found out the DNR wouldn't let them. At the annual Pelican Spring Classic in lakes country, anglers are anxious to report their catch of the day.

But year after year, Tracy Soule's been keeping count of more than just walleye -- he's also on the lookout for zebra mussels.

"You just pull out a weed and it's just covered with them," he says.

"A visible inspection does not work," says Terry Kalil, a member of the Becker County Lakes Association. "There's nothing to see."

Kalil and her group drove to Minneapolis for this Ecos decontamination unit. The machine essentially uses high pressure hot water to clean off zebra mussels on boats. They were hoping to use it at public access points this weekend on Pelican Lake, a lake known for zebra mussels, but the machine sits outside the Detroit Lakes police department.

The DNR says it is a safety liability because of the sheer power of this machine. This hose can shoot out 160 degree hot water at 3000 pounds per square inch. They say that's more powerful than a car wash hose and they just don't have the trained people to work this new form of technology.

"These zebra mussels aren't going to wait for a plan. They're not going to wait for training." says Kalil.

The DNR currently has three boat inspectors working Pelican Lake this weekend. They will be checking drains and livewells before boaters or jet skiers dock.

Kalil says that's not enough to prevent the spread of these lake invaders and keep business afloat in the summer.

"If we don't protect our lakes, our economy is going to be significantly affected by billion of dollars."

"Pretty soon you have to wear shoes just to go swimming you know? That's not fun."

As for Tracy, he'll be back to beat out the competition tomorrow and hopefully next year as well.

The machine in question has been used before. In fact, during the Minnesota fishing opener a couple of weeks ago.

We're told the DNR has ordered three machines that it will be using, which has Terry Kalil and her group scratching their heads. They wonder why the DNR can use it, but not this one.