Tuesday, March 18, 2014

AERF Spotlight - The State of Minnesota

MN DNR inspector and K-9
Photo Credit:  MN DNR
Happy Tuesday everyone!  In our AERF Spotlight, we often feature individuals who have made or are making great contributions in aquatic plant science, management, or legislation.  This week we are widening our spotlight to include the entire State of Minnesota!  When it comes to invasive species, the state known as the "North Star State" is truly "leading" the rest of the nation. Minnesota has some of the toughest laws on the books and most importantly, they enforce them!  In other words, don't even try to bring invasive species into Minnesota's woods or waters!

A Minnesota DNR Invasive Species Inspector.
 Photo Credit:  David Joles http://www.startribune.com/
The state of Minnesota has some of the best and most specific laws on the books to control invasive species.  Armed with aquatic weed sniffing K-9s, boat washing and inspection stations, and AIS agents, this group more resembles a special forces unit than a natural resources agency.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) clearly defines invasive species that are within, or currently considered a threat in Minnesota.  Species defined as "prohibited" sport the tightest regulations as well as the toughest fines.  In terms of aquatic plants on the "naughty" (prohibited) list, you will find common culprits like Giant Salvinia, Water Chestnut, Curly-leaf Pondweed, and the infamous Hydrilla.  Transporting these aquatic troublemakers, as well as just about any other aquatic plant, will land you with hefty fines along with other repercussions.  Furthermore, State officers have the authority to ticket for invasive species infractions, something which is seldom seen in any other state.  For an overview of Minnesota's Invasive Species Laws, click HERE.

As of July 1st, 2012, the State even began requiring any boat lift, dock, swim raft, or associated equipment removed from any water body, not to be placed in another water body until at least three full weeks have passed.  Furthermore, if you are using equipment such as nets, lines, etc in waters infested with aquatic invasive species, this equipment may not be used in uninfested waters of the State.  Don't even think about it!  The State frequently updates the list of infested waters by the species which infest the waterbody.  These actions alone have helped Minnesota prevent countless invasions and establishment of the growing list of aquatic invasive species.  For a list of currently infested waters in the State of Minnesota, click HERE

Minnesota DNR boat cleaning station.  Photo Credit:  Minnesota DNR
The State of Minnesota also does a lot in terms of research, education, and outreach concerning invasive species.  The University of Minnesota's Applied Weed Science Research Program covers several aspects of extension and research of invasive plant species and the Minnesota Seagrant provides a wide variety of information and extension material regarding aquatic invasive species.  MN DNR also offers aquatic invasive species prevention training!  To learn more about invasive species in Minnesota, click HERE.  

Hydrilla verticillata is becoming a common threat to a number of northern US states, including Minnesota.
Photo Credit:  NCSU Aquatic Weed Control Program
For the 2013 Minnesota DNR Invasive Species Annual Report, click HERE.

From all of us here at AERF, keep up the good work Minnesota and to all the other fantastic programs across the nation, thank you for fighting the good fight against aquatic invasive species!  Other states, take note!  Minnesota is tough on invasive species!

If you would like to nominate someone, a group, or program for the AERF spotlight, please email to bmhartis@ncsu.edu.

For more information on the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation, visit www.aquatics.org.

Stay tuned for more of the latest in aquatic plant management, science, and innovation and have a wonderful rest of the week!

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