Review dock and boat lift canopy regulations before you buy
Spring boat shows are popular this time of year, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds residents to review dock and boat lift canopy regulations before investing in new equipment in order to ensure it will meet current standards.
Boat equipment dealers are also asked to review the regulations to ensure they are not selling equipment to their customers that does not meet the standards.
Canvas watercraft canopies are allowed; however, boat lifts with metal or other hard-surface roofing do not meet current Minnesota statutes.
State law defines a watercraft canopy as "a structure or device with a fabric covered roof and without walls or a floor that is placed on the bed of a public water, is designed to shelter a watercraft, and is designed and constructed so that all components may be removed from the lake or stream bed on a seasonal basis by skidding intact or by disassembly by hand tools."
"The current regulations have been in existence for quite some time, but not everyone is familiar with them," said Capt. Ken Soring, DNR Northeast Region Enforcement supervisor.
"Residents might assume that a product is sold in Minnesota meets the rules for the state. Sometimes that isn't the case," Soring said. "We would rather have residents informed of the standards before they make the purchase, instead of having to tell them later that they need to remove a structure they already installed."
Dock size, length and position are also regulated to provide a balance between the protection and utilization of public waters. Extensive dock and lift systems may shade out important aquatic plants and eliminate critical habitat where fish spawn, feed, grow, and find shelter from predators.
Lakeshore owners are encouraged to visit the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/boatwater/index.html for guidance on shoreline dock and lift structures. The DNR website also contains links to other helpful information for lakeshore owners about shoreline erosion control and restoration projects to help improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.
Lakeshore residents and equipment dealers are also reminded to check for aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels, before moving boats, docks and boatlifts. More information about preventing the spread of invasive species is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/preventspread.html .