How You Can Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

By: Angie Smith

April 13, 2020

Category: Resource Management

Feeling cooped up? Itching to get out on the water again? I hear you!

Our present “new normal” during this COVID-19 situation has a lot of us ready for warmer weather and ready to take advantage of all the amazing natural resources around us. 

These are days of being socially responsible — not only to reduce the potential spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus, but also to ensure we leave our resources better than we found them. 

Boating is a great way to maintain our social distance, breathe in some revitalizing fresh air, and soak up that essential vitamin D. Now that boat launches are open in Three Rivers, it’s important to remind ourselves about aquatic invasive species and how we can prevent them from further impacting our Minnesota lakes, rivers and streams.  

What Are Aquatic Invasive Species?

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are plant and animal species that came to Minnesota waterways from other parts of the country and world. They often outcompete our native plants and animals because they don’t have any naturally occurring predators or control systems in this region. AIS can damage our healthy aquatic ecosystems and threaten our vibrant recreational resources.

Two small, striped mussels are attached to a larger mussel.
"Zebra Mussels on a Fatmucket Mussel" by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region is licensed under CC BY 2.0 ​​​​​​.​

How to Prevent the Spread of AIS

There are a few easy things we can all do when boating at Three Rivers Parks, or on any Minnesota waterway, to prevent the spread of AIS.

Clean Your Equipment

A brightly colored sign instructs boaters to stop and clean their boats of aquatic invasive species.
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Clean off your boat and trailer both before AND after you launch. It’s easy to do through three simple steps:

  • Clean all visible aquatic plants and animals from your boat and trailer. 
  • Drain water-related equipment and remove the drain plug before leaving the area.
  • Dispose of all removed AIS and unwanted bait in the trash.

Learn more from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Know the AIS Laws

Know the law regarding aquatic invasive species and boating in Minnesota. You may not:

  • Transport watercraft without removing the drain plug.
  • Arrive at a lake access with a drain plug in place.
  • Transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels or other prohibited species on any roadway.
  • Launch a watercraft with prohibited species attached.
  • Transport water from Minnesota lakes or rivers.
  • Release bait into the water.

Enjoy the Open Water!

A man fishes from a kayak.

While there are many things we can’t control these days, the things we can control can make a vast difference in our mental, physical and environmental well-being. And we’re going to want to return to our healthy lakes and rivers time and again. 

Grab your Three Rivers boat trailer pass, have fun and breathe deeply. I hope to see you – from a distance – on the water!

About the Author

A woman in a blue plaid shirt and hat smiles at the camera.

Angie Smith is the former Director of Natural Resources for Three Rivers Park District. She was with Three Rivers from 2016 to 2020 and thoroughly enjoyed working with an amazing team of natural resources professionals and recreation enthusiasts. Angie has a masters degree in Environmental Science and considers herself a generalist – focusing on connections between ecosystems and managing from a system-level approach. In her spare time, Angie loves getting out in the parks to hike and bike and enjoys traveling adventures around the world.


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