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DNR introduces 'clean-and-drain' at boat launches to stop zebra mussels

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.

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 boat 'clean-and-drain' areas are a part of the DNR's ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Everyone who has a boat on a trailer has the personal responsibility to prevent the spread of invasive species; these areas will make it easier."

The new areas should make it easy for boaters to understand what they need to do and where to do it. The aim is to put an end to the unsightly 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. Plan ahead to save minnows and leeches by transferring them to containers prefilled with well, bottled, distilled or otherwise 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 or requested from the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.