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It’s a new day on Minnesota lakes. News that invasive species have begun to make inroads into area lakes means the familiar old ways of doing things have to end. Now.

A Sept. 11 story by Outdoors Editor Brian S. Peterson in the Brainerd Dispatch’s Outdoor Traditions section told a disheartening story which didn’t reflect well on many area boaters. Despite the efforts of the Gull Chain of Lakes Association to make a decontamination pressure-washing unit and trained operators available this past summer at the Hole-In-The-Day Bay access use of the unit was pathetically low.

According to the GCOLA newsletter 1,425 units (boats, trailers, Jet Skis, etc.) were decontaminated from June 17 to Aug. 1. As Peterson wrote “That’s an average of less than 10 watercraft a day at a public access that, during the heart of summer, sees probably 10 time that traffic.

How much easier can the lake association make it for boaters? It purchased the $30,000 decontamination unit. It arranged for trained operators to clean recreational units all summer long. Is it too much to ask boaters to take a few extra minutes to ensure they won’t inadvertently transfer invasive species from one lake to another?

Credit goes to the Gull Lake Chain of Lakes Association and to those boaters who conscientiously use the decontaminating unit, notably the Cass and Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Departments and area fishing guides. Kavanaugh’s Resort also deserves recognition for setting up its own boat wash area with a high pressure hose.

If boaters don’t take the threat of invasive species seriously the nuisance vegetation will overtake our lakes. We’re no fans of government mandates but if voluntary efforts aren’t working something is going to have to be done. It’s just plain inexcusable for boaters not to be responsible about cleaning their boats and trailers. A few minutes of diligence as boats come and go on area lakes could go a long  way toward keeping Brainerd area lakes healthy.