DNR postpones aquatic invasive species training for Minnesota bo - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

DNR postpones aquatic invasive species training for Minnesota boaters

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Lake Pepin in Lake City has been known to have the invasive zebra mussel residing under the waves Lake Pepin in Lake City has been known to have the invasive zebra mussel residing under the waves

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is postponing a new aquatic invasive species training and trailer decal program that was due to launch at the end of the month. The postponement comes as a result of actions in the state Legislature, and pressure from the public.

The idea of the program is to stop invasive species like zebra mussels from spreading from lake to lake. That usually meant taking a power washer to the bottom of your boat after taking it out of the water and before you put it back in another body of water. 

The program the DNR has postponed is part of a law passed by the state Legislature in 2012. It would require anyone in Minnesota trailering a boat or water-related equipment like docks and lifts to take a special training course about aquatic invasive species and display a special decal on their trailer.

The DNR has postponed the program because the Legislature is considering changes to the program. "With the legislative interest in this educational program and ongoing discussions about possible changes, we are postponing the launch until we see if the Legislature acts this session to modify the program," said DNR Assistant Commissioner, Bob Meier.

However, Sen. Jeremy Miller from Winona said the DNR was also facing pressure from citizens concerned about the program. "The DNR's decision is a testament to the influence citizens can have on state policy," said Miller. "I have long been a supporter of protecting our waterways from invasive species, but after speaking with my constituents, sportsmen and women, other legislators, and interested groups, it became clear there were many concerns about this particular law."

Sen. Miller has introduced a bill that would permanently repeal the requirement of the training and decal.

The DNR said it supports the education, but recognizes there are concerns with the way the law is written. It gives an example of people taking boats on trailers through Minnesota to a destination outside the state being required to take the course and display a decal, even if they don't put their boat in Minnesota waters.

The program's future is pending until the state Legislature takes action.

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