MINNETONKA, Minn. - There's nothing more Minnesotan than a beautiful lake.
"Having a resource like this is amazing," said Bill Cole, a member of the Christmas Lake Association near Excelsior.
But the water we move is ruining the water we love.
On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said 20 percent of people don't clean their boats when they take them between lakes.
"The biggest transporter is water," said Greg Salo of the Minnesota DNR. "We still want people to use the lakes and public accesses. That's what they're there for. We're just asking people to do really simple things: Pull the plugs, clean the weeds and drain the water."
And when they don't? The boats can spread zebra mussels and other invasive species that now infest hundreds of lakes and rivers statewide.
For years, the DNR has warned boaters, but now it's fining them; issuing tickets up to $500. Those fines could double next month.
"We're going to take a pretty heavy handed approach and write tickets for this," Salo said, "Because writing warnings wasn't working."
And so far, awareness isn't either. But the DNR hopes that'll change, saying the lakes belong to everyone, and do does the job of keeping them clean.
"Whether you live on the lake or not," Cole said, "These are public waters."
"It only takes one person and to watch it get ruined," Salo said. "It's tough."
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