This post is in partnership with Ramsey County Parks & Recreation to help spread the message of taking care of our lakes and rivers. All opinions are my own.
It’s official. Lake season is in full swing! I’ve already been out on several lakes with our boat, canoe, and hopefully sooner than later — the standup paddleboard. One of my favorite lakes to visit is Turtle Lake over at Turtle Lake County Park, mainly because it’s so close to home. Convenience is everything with two little tikes in tow! 🙂
I’ve caught some memorable crappies at Turtle Lake during the early ice fishing season and I’m excited to do some more fishing this summer. It’s actually the perfect park for our family because it’s literally minutes from my mom and dad’s place, there’s a beach, picnic area, and even a playground for Harlan.
Whether you’re new to water recreation or a pro at all things lakes and rivers, we all have a responsibility to take care of our natural resources — things like leaving no trace behind, respecting wildlife, being considerate of others, and taking care of the water so that it can be enjoyed for future generations to come. That’s why I said “yes!” when Ramsey County Parks & Recreation asked me to help spread the message of “Clean In, Clean Out” to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.
WHAT ARE AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES?
Aquatic invasive species threaten the health of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. You’re probably familiar with some of the common ones including zebra mussels, eurasian watermilfoil, and curly-leaf pondweed. AIS get transported from one lake to another when they hitch a ride on our boats, trailers, and water sports equipment — often unknowingly to us. Check out this map from the Minnesota DNR to see all of the infested waters in Minnesota. It’s pretty crazy!
They’re invasive because they can choke out our lakes and kill off native plants and animals, including fish. That’s bad news for anglers as well as the wildlife that rely on fish to survive. It basically throws the ecosystem out of balance.
Zebra mussels can also damage boat motors and hulls and clog water intakes. And its razor-sharp shells are especially a risk for our kids, families, and pets who are out swimming at the beach, dock, or swim rafts. Ouch!
THREE FREE TOOLS TO STOP THE SPREAD OF AIS
Ramsey County Parks & Recreation has launched an educational campaign called “Clean In, Clean Out” and it’s designed to stop the spread of AIS. The county is making it easier for us all to be responsible boaters and water sport recreators by giving us three easy, convenient, and free tools, including the:
- Water Recreation Web App (ramseycounty.us/AIS) that guides boaters through a complete inspection of their watercraft
- AIS Tool Stations at all Ramsey County Parks & Recreation boat launch areas which includes basic tools like brushes or pickers to remove mud, weeds, and debris from your equipment and trailers
- CD3 Cleaning Station at the Turtle Lake boat launch area which provides a variety of self-service cleaning tools like an air blower, wet-dry vacuum, lights, and hand tools to help you remove and dispose of water, weeds, debris, and leftover bait
The Water Recreation Web App is handy when there isn’t a boat inspector present at the landing. If you’ve launched a boat before, you’ve likely been asked a series of questions by an inspector who surveyed your boat. The app is self-guided and runs through a quick and complete checklist for all types of watercrafts to prevent the spread of AIS. Personally, it’s hard for me to remember all the places I need to check for invasive species (like the axles, rollers, sides of the boat, anchor line, drain plug, prop and intake, bilge, engine, etc.) so this app makes it super easy.
While all of the Ramsey County boat launches have the AIS Tool Stations, Turtle Lake is the only launch with a CD3 Cleaning Station. This station has every tool needed to properly clean your boat, trailer, fishing gear, wake surfing boards, SUP, or whatever gear you have. It’s actually amazing and I’m happy we have a resource like this available to everyone! I used the station recently to clean our boat and it was easy and efficient. And not only am I preventing the spread of AIS, but I’m also keeping my boat sparkling clean! That’s a win-win in my book.
So do your part when you’re on the water. Use the free tools I mentioned above. It’s convenient and easy! Protect the lakes and rivers you love by following the simple rules of “clean in, clean out.” This is how we ensure that future generations can enjoy Minnesota’s lakes and rivers for years to come.