After a long winter, Minnesotans are ready to hit the water for the official start of the boating season — Memorial Day. The Department of Natural Resources is reminding everyone to protect themselves and state waters.
“Think zero — zero aquatic invasive species violations, zero new infestations and zero boating deaths,” said Lt. Adam Block, DNR conservation officer.
DNR inspectors working at public accesses around the state have found that most people are following aquatic invasive species (AIS) laws. But already this year they have stopped over 40 boaters who were entering or leaving lakes with zebra mussels attached to boats or equipment.
And so far this year, one person has died in a boating accident. Last year, 13 people died in boating accidents. If all boaters in Minnesota wore life jackets, 10 lives could be saved each year.
“Minnesota’s lakes and rivers are precious resources and we are asking people to do their part; wear a life jacket every time you step on a boat and always clean and drain your boat, so everyone can continue to enjoy our waters,” Block said.
More than 500 Minnesota — rivers, lakes, wetlands — are designated as infested with AIS. That leaves more than 10,000 bodies of water to protect.
A few simple steps can make a big difference from a good day on the water to a bad day.
Boaters should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Before leaving a water access, boaters are required to:
- Clean off all aquatic plants and animals.
- Drain all water from bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs.
- Leave the drain plug out when transporting.
- Empty bait buckets and dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash.