Lawmaker aims to repeal DNR invasive species training

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A state lawmaker is looking to repeal the Dept. of Natural Resource's aquatic invasive species online training program for boaters before it ever launches.

"This is really an extra burden for boat owners," Rep. Steve Drazkowski, a Mazeppa Republican, told KARE Tuesday.

Drazkowski noted that a Facebook page dedicated to repealing the law has more than 3,400 likes.

"People are just starting to feel fatigued and feel that government has become too overzealous here and gone overboard."

The DNR had hoped this would be the summer to implement the training program, which was authorized by the legislature in 2012. But the agency postponed it indefinitely while it reworks the details and fee structure.

The training protocol is considered as part of a broader effort to education the boating public about the danger of transferring aquatic hitchhikers, such as zebra mussels, from one lake to another.

For the DNR the training program is just part of a statewide effort to slow the zebra mussel infestation. He said it would work much like other DNR online training for vendors and hunters, for example.

"A person would go to a website, take a brief 15 to 20 minute educational program, and then take an online test afterwards, upon which they would be able to receive a decal to put on their boat trailer," Bob Meier of the DNR told KARE.

He said it would apply to people putting boats in Minnesota waters as well as those hauling boats through the state while in route to other places.

"We still are seeing a fairly high violation rate, 17 percent of the people we inspected last year weren't aware of the laws or were violating those laws," Meier explained.

Current laws require boaters to remove mussels from their boats and trailers and pull their drain plugs after leaving the water.

Meier said any fee imposed for taking the training course online would be simply enough to cover the cost of running the program.

Drazkowski said the law, as written, only calls for a warning. It's not that he's advocating for fines, but asserts the threat of a warning doesn't motivate people.

"I think the state's already doing a good job of educating people, without this extra training program."


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