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An Echo Press Editorial: Take the pledge to stop lake invaders

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

Zebra mussels are an aquatic invasive species.
Zebra mussels can clog water intake pipes and cut the feet of swimmers. They also absorb pollutants that people can ingest when they eat the fish that eat the mussels.
Contributed photo
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The future of our lakes is in your hands.

Take a pledge to protect our waters by stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels.

This summer, you can do this through a new way: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is rolling out a new online pledge to help prevent aquatic invasive species from gaining a toe-hold in our lakes, rivers and wetlands.

Anyone 18 or older can go to the new “Pledge to Protect Minnesota Waters” page of the Department of Natural Resources website ( mndnr.gov/AISPledge ) to take the pledge and upload an optional photo. The pledge affirms that participants will follow Minnesota’s “Clean, Drain, Dispose” laws and will encourage others to do so.

“The pledge allows people to demonstrate their commitment to protect Minnesota waters,” points out Tina Fitzgerald, aquatic invasive species prevention planner. “Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels, starry stonewort and Eurasian watermilfoil, are spread by people, which means people can prevent their spread.”

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Visitors to the page can also see other public pledges and share the page with friends.

Regardless of the activity — boating, paddling, fishing, moving shoreline equipment, using recreational gear on the water, or caring for aquarium pets or water gardens — everyone can pledge to do their part and take several simple actions to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, according to the DNR.

Be sure to follow Minnesota laws:

  • Clean watercraft, trailers and equipment to remove aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water and leave drain plugs out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
  • Never release bait, plants or aquarium pets into Minnesota waters.
  • Dry docks, lifts and rafts for 21 days before moving them from one water body to another.

There are other additional steps that lake users can do to reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species:

  • Decontaminate watercraft and equipment – find free stations on the Courtesy Decontamination page of the DNR website (gov/Decon).
  • Spray with high-pressure water or rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry watercraft and equipment for at least five days before using in another water body.
  • People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist (mndnr.gov/AISContacts) if they think they have found any invasive species that has not already been confirmed in a lake or river.

More information is available on the Aquatic Invasive Species page of the DNR website (mndnr.gov/AIS).
If you have friends or relatives that are planning a lake trip to the Douglas County area, please remind them of the law and precautions they should follow before they get out on the water. Some may be from out-of-state or are simply unaware of the simple steps they can take to keep our lakes clean and AIS-free for future generations to enjoy.

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