Minnesota boaters won't have to pass a 30-minute training course on aquatic invasive species (AIS) or put a decal on their boats to indicate they passed such a class.
That controversial law, which was to take effect July 1 and was intended to slow the spread of invasive species to the state's lakes and rivers, was repealed Monday by the Legislature and replaced.
Under the new law, starting Jan. 1, when boaters register their crafts, besides registration stickers they'll get a summary of AIS prevention requirements, and they must sign a form saying they've read them.
"It will be short and will highlight the requirements — remove vegetation, drain water and pull drain plugs,'' said Rodmen Smith, Department of Natural Resources assistant enforcement director. "And when you sign it, it says you've read the laws and understand them.''
Starting March 1, nonresident anglers will get the same forms to read and sign. Both boaters and nonresident anglers must possess those signed forms when on the water next year, or face $25 fines.
One concern with the repealed law was that it would have required nonresidents trailering a boat through the state to take the course and display the decal even if they didn't put their watercraft in Minnesota waters. Resort owners also were concerned the law could hurt summer tourism.
The new law is less onerous for residents and nonresidents alike, but officials hope it still will be an effective tool to prevent zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasives from spreading to more waters.
Meanwhile, another section of the new law allows conservation officers and boat inspectors to order that boats contaminated with aquatic invasive species must be cleaned before they can be launched in any waters. Officers can give the owners a specific time frame to get the boats cleaned.
"It's kind of like a fix-it ticket,'' Smith said. "We don't want them to just go to a different lake and launch.''
Currently boaters can be cited for transporting invasive species, but officers and inspectors can't order the boats to be cleaned.
Spearing ban lifted
The law also removes spearing bans on 11 lakes, including Minnetonka, Rebecca, Bald Eagle, Stieger — and Libbs, Peavy, Forest and Tanager in Hennepin and Carver counties — as well as Big Lake in Beltrami County, East and West Rush lakes in Chisago County and Wabedo Lake in Cass County. DNR officials said they don't believe the bans need to remain in place to protect muskies, which remain illegal to spear.
The AIS and spearing provisions were included in a large wide-ranging bill passed by the Legislature, which contains some measures Gov. Mark Dayton doesn't like. Dayton could either veto the bill, sign it into law or allow it to become law without his signature.
Doug Smith • firstname.lastname@example.org