Resorts, lawmakers lead DNR to put invasive species rules on hold

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Boaters in Minnesota are getting a temporary reprieve from a new requirement this year that they pass a 30-minute training program on aquatic invasive species in order to pull their boat on a trailer anywhere in the state.

Some state lawmakers are raising objections to the plan, so the Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday it's putting the program on hold until it's clear whether the law will be changed.

The Aquatic Invasive Species Training Law was passed in 2012 as a way to help prevent the growth of aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil in Minnesota lakes. One of the main ways they are spread is by hitching rides on boats that are taken from lake to lake.

The law requires boaters to take the training program, which will most likely be available online, and if they pass the test they receive a decal that must be displayed on their boat trailer.

The DNR was set to begin offering the training within the next few weeks.

But resort owners are complaining about the law, which doesn't exempt boaters coming here from out of state, MPR News reports. Now several lawmakers say they'll move to repeal the law.

Assistant DNR Commissioner Bob Meier said in a news release the agency doesn’t want boaters to take the course now if it's possible the law will be changed.

Meier told MPR News he's confident his agency can work out a compromise with lawmakers on the more concerning requirements.

For example, people transporting boats on trailers through Minnesota to another destination are required to take the course and display a decal, even if they don’t put their boat in Minnesota waters.

But, Meier added, the training element is important, since about 20 percent of boaters violate current laws that require them to check their craft for invasive species after they pull it out of the water.

The training and sticker requirement doesn't go into effect until July 1, so Meier said there should still be enough time to respond to any changes in the law and launch the program before then.

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