Watercraft Inspection Program
Watercraft inspections have been taking place in Minnesota since 1992, thanks to Minnesota Lakes Associations, Angling groups and the DNR. Watercraft inspections provide local support through educating boaters and performing inspections on watercraft. Our inspectors act as a second pair of eyes to ensure lake goers are not increasing their financial burdens or their community’s by unintentionally spreading AIS. It is against the law to transport AIS or water in watercraft or to place watercraft in the water with attached plant fragments or animals such as zebra mussels, doing so can result in a civil penalty or misdemeanor and upwards of a 500$ fine. For more information please visit the MN DNR Invasive Species Laws webpage. Our watercraft inspectors are stewards of not only our lakes but of the regions economic, human, and environmental interests by their service to the meeker county community. It is not only the law but our community members duty to their neighbors to clean, drain and dry their watercraft. Aquatic invasive species can greatly disrupt local economies and fisheries. Inspection programs help prevent new introductions of AIS, limit the spread of established AIS in a region, and assist in public education by sharing best practices.
Meeker County’s watercraft inspection program was expanded to include 12 Public Water Accesses in 2020. Meeker County Lakes included in the 2020 watercraft inspection program include: Lake Minnie Belle, Lake Washington, Lake Stella, Clear Lake, Lake Manuella, Lake Erie, Lake Ripley East and West, Lake Jennie, Lake Francis, Wolf Lake, and Belle Lake. This decision was informed by requests from the public, watercraft inspection data, analyses done by the AIS Coordinator and researchers from MAISRC at UMN. In 2020 Meeker County inspections are projected to cover approximately 80% of the boater traffic from infested to non-infested waters; this projection is based on an analysis done by MAISRC researchers. Additional analysis of risk scores for starry stonewort and zebra mussels, environmental conditions and recorded trends in boater compliance with AIS laws were factored into ranking our lakes of concern and determining inspector placement.
With the COVID-19 Pandemic we have adapted protocols and ask that boaters and lake goers adhere to social distancing and come prepared. All Meeker County Inspectors will have face masks at the launch and be practicing social distancing. Boaters may be asked to have family remain in the vehicle and to turn off music and/or vehicles during the inspection. Inspections take a few minutes to complete and will be contact-less so boaters may be asked to remove plant fragments or water from the watercraft. Please ensure you have a sponge or a rag of your own you may use to clean up excess water in your live well. Please ensure you clean your boat off prior to arriving to the lake. We do recommend that anglers bring additional water to transport unused bait ( do not dump it in the lake, it may spread pathogenic AIS and is illegal) or any fish caught.
If you have any questions about Meeker County’s Inspection Program, contact the AIS Coordiantor.