Many lakes and rivers in the Vermillion River Watershed are threatened by aquatic invasive species (AIS) — non-native plants or animals that live primarily in water and thrive in their new environment, often out-competing native species. Invasive species cause harm to the environment and economy.
Well-known aquatic invasive species in the Vermillion River Watershed include:
- Zebra mussels
- Curlyleaf pondweed
- Eurasian watermilfoil
- Spiny waterflea
- Flowering rush
- Purple loosestrife
Every angler, boater, and water recreationist plays a vital role in stopping the spread of AIS. Cleaning watercraft and equipment after use in a water body and following AIS laws helps protect waters and spares anglers and boaters from citations.
The law requires anglers and boaters to clean weeds and debris from their boats, drain lake or river water, remove drain plugs, and keep them out while traveling, and dispose of unused bait in the trash. If everyone follows this simple procedure throughout the season, it’s possible to prevent new infestations caused by human activity.
It is illegal to knowingly transport any aquatic plants, zebra mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, or other prohibited invasive species or to launch a boat or trailer with these species attached. Zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, and spiny waterfleas can be easily carried from one lake to another if aquatic plants or water are left on or in a boat or trailer. Specially marked clean-and-drain areas at public water access points provide safe and convenient places for anglers and boaters to clean, drain, and dispose of materials.
Some aquatic invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access points. To remove or kill them before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving zebra mussel or spiny waterflea infested waters, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends that boaters:
- Spray boat and trailer with high-pressure water.
- Rinse boat and trailer with hot water (120 degrees for 2 minutes, or 140 degrees for 10 seconds), or
- Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.
Dakota County receives money each year from the state for AIS programs, which often goes toward grants for local governments, lake associations, and County departments for stopping the spread of AIS.