If your plans this weekend including hitting a favorite Minnesota lake or river and knocking back several beers, you might want to reconsider.
Beginning today and continuing through Sunday, conservation officers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and county sheriff’s water patrol deputies will be out in force for Operation Drywater. In a news release, the DNR said it’s part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to boating under the influence (BUI) enforcement before the Fourth of July and peak boating season.
Officers will be on the lookout for boat and watercraft operators whose blood alcohol content is .08 or higher.
“We intend to reach out to as many people as possible about the hazards of boating under the influence,” Capt. Greg Salo, DNR Central Region enforcement manager, said in a statement. “Some boaters will face the consequences of boating under the influence. We would much rather arrest someone than to have to tell a family that the person is never coming home again.”
BUI continues to be a major problem throughout the country. In Minnesota, alcohol was involved in 50 percent of 16 boating fatalities in 2011, the DNR said.
BUI carries the same consequences as operating a motor vehicle under the influence. In Minnesota, that includes a $1,000 fine, possible jail time and loss of boat operating privileges for 90 days. Conviction also goes on driver’s license records and may affect car insurance premiums.
I made a run to the licensing office in East Grand Forks today to make sure the registration for my boat, which I store out of town, hadn’t expired and was reminded of a new requirement for boats and other watercraft that launch in Minnesota waters.
This invasive species sticker now is required on boat and other watercraft that operate in Minnesota.
Under state law, watercraft owners or operators must display an “Aquatic Invasive Species Rules Decal” before launching or operating on any waters of the state. The requirement appears to apply to boats from out of state, as well.
The stickers are free and available from the DNR, but frankly, I wouldn’t have known anything about them if the clerk at the license office hadn’t voluntarily given me one as I was headed out the door. Such is life in the new reality of fishing and boating regulations since aquatic invasive species made their unwelcome appearances in waters across North America.
Apparently — and this isn’t the least bit clear, either in the regulations or on the sticker itself — the top part of the two-piece sticker goes on the boat somewhere near the registration decals, while the bottom part goes on the trailer near the winch. Just to confirm, I checked with a DNR conservation officer, and he said he wasn’t sure where the stickers went.
At any rate, the stickers now are required, and if you’re planning to launch or operate your boat in Minnesota, you’d be well served to stop at a licensing outlet and get one. For more information, check out Page 23 of the 2012 Minnesota boating guide, which you can download here: