I’m at a boat launch near home this weekend, and here comes the DNR’s Milfoil Boy. Nothing against this guy, he was polite and just doing his job, and I answered all his questions like I have many times before. When we were done with the mandatory back-and-forth, he told how this year there would even be boat wash down stations at some popular boat launches on the Croix and Mississippi. “Good”, I thought, “another reason for me to be late getting home”. I can already hear the phone conversation…..”Really, Hon’, I pulled the boat out over an hour ago, but I’m still waiting for my turn to do the mandatory BOAT WASH!” I can’t stop wondering how many tax dollars are going to this endeavor?
What is an invasive specie? A better question is “What isn’t an invasive specie?” Every critter, fish, plant, and person in the world could be considered “Invasive” if it is in the wrong place. Milfoil, Zebra Mussels, and Asian Carp get most of the press now. You aren’t likely to hear many complain about Brown Trout or Ring Neck Pheasants, but some might put them into the invasive category–after all both come from lands far away. If Whitetail Deer, Ruffed Grouse, Black Capped Chickadees, or Walleyes were introduced and later became overly abundant somewhere in Argentina, someone there would probably put laws into affect that would involve a firing squad for helping with the spread of these invasives which are beloved by all Minnesotans. Go back just a few hundred years, and the Minnesotans of the time would have some strong opinions about invasives from other lands.
There is no way to stop species moving in to new locales. For instance, there are many ponds along freeways that have never had a boat in them, yet they are full of milfoil. Same goes for Cenaiko Lake in Coon Rapids, a small stocked trout lake in Coon Rapids that does not allow boats of any kind. Coincidentally, these bodies of water are also full of waterfowl, which freely fly from one lake to another, undoubtedly carrying pieces of the dreaded weeds with them.
You know what else flies freely from lake to lake? Floatplanes! I love floatplanes, and was lucky enough to spend some time in Alaska where I flew in them often. I am jealous of the float planes I see around here, and I would not want to see them go away. Nor do I think that the threat of them adding to the spread of invasives is worth consideration. But, I have to put up with the threat of a fine if I miss a piece of weed on my boat trailer when traveling from one lake to another, do float plane pilots have to worry about similar fines? All float planes do is fly from lake to lake, and I’m pretty sure there are no check points for them. There is a float plane base on Rice Lake in Anoka County, I find it curious that this lake is not listed as “infested” with milfoil on the DNR website, even though Marshan Lake, which is listed as “infested” is only about 200 yards UPSTREAM of Rice Lake via Rice Creek. Hmmmm sometimes I wish I weren’t so conspiracy minded.
I asked Milfoil Boy about how float Planes are regulated, or are they “Above the Law”, he had no answer, and went back to looking at the bottom of my trailer. So I launched without incident, but when I came back, things were a little backed up at the access and I had to “nicely” yell at someone to tie his boat down AWAY from the ramp. He was taking so much time at the top of the ramp I had assumed he was preparing to launch, but no, he was figuring out where the straps go. Meanwhile, Milfoil Boy watched on while he quizzed the next boat owner about the perils of Invasive Species. So now, the final part of my rant.. Why not have the Milfoil Police do double duty, and train them how to keep things moving at the boat ramp. In between explanations of how Zebra Mussels are going to take over the earth, why not have them give some pointers to keep things flowing smoothly at the ramp, maybe do a little light duty traffic directing, heck they could even offer to hold someone’s boat while the owner parked their rig. Then, they could even check the interior of the boat for sprigs of Milfoil and swab for Zebra Mussel DNA at the same time–EVERYONE WINS!
Everything is invasive, if conditions are conducive to a particular specie, it is almost impossible to destroy it. Look at dandelions. This time of year you can’t help but look at dandelions. I wonder how much money is spent each year trying to destroy them? Let’s stop the nonsense of spending incredible amounts of money, time, and effort to stop the spread of things that do negligible damage, and may even be beneficial in some cirmcumstances.