2019 Boat Launch AIS Inspection Hours
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) inspections are done May 1 – December 1 by DNR trained AIS inspectors during the following hours. The public boat launches are locked during non-launch hours.
May 1 – September 15
Daily: 6 am–10 pm
September 16 – October 14
Daily: 6 am–9 pm
October 15 – November 3
Daily: 7 am–8 pm, Inspector On-Call*
November 4 – December 1
Daily: 8 am–6 pm, Inspector On-Call*
*On-Call Program (October 15 – December 1)
During our fall on-call inspection program please call the following numbers to get an inspection.
- Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun): 612-346-5547
- Lake Harriet: 612-346-5547
- Lake Nokomis: 612-346-5428
Boat launches will be open for each boater who calls for entry and exit inspections. Wait time is generally less than 10 minutes. Appointments not accepted. Boaters not exiting the lake by closing time must secure their boat and return for it the next day.
Help Protect Your Waters
If you are a lake user please do your part to prevent the transport of AIS from one lake, river or creek to another. Protect Minnesota’s waters by following the state AIS laws.
MPRB’s Watercraft Education and Inspection Program
In April 2013 the MPRB implemented a Watercraft Education and Inspection program. All watercraft and water related equipment passing through boat launches at Lakes Harriet, Nokomis, and Bde Maka Ska are required to have inspections looking for aquatic invasive species (AIS). Boats launched from the shoreline are not required to have an inspection. Boat launches are closed when inspectors are not on site. Be sure to check for current boat launch hours prior to your visit. In addition to watercraft inspections, the MPRB also implements the following actions to prevent the spread of AIS:
- AIS education and outreach
- Boat launch usage data collection at the launches
- Signage and additional trash receptacles to encourage proper bait disposal at launches, fishing docks, and high use shoreline fishing areas
- Early AIS detection monitoring
- Staff education
- Developed an AIS Rapid Response Plan
AIS Prevention in the Future
Park Board staff will continue to evaluate and improve its AIS prevention program from year to year. AIS inspectors collect data during inspections to help inform decisions about future efforts.
Under Minnesota law, it is illegal to transport aquatic plants and animals as well as water, to and from water bodies. Failure to comply with Minnesota AIS regulations can result in fines up to $1,000.
Clean visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited species from watercraft, trailers, and equipment before transporting from any water access. Drain water from bilge, live well, motor, ballast tanks, and portable bait containers before leaving water accesses or shoreline property. Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash or refill bait container with bottled or tap water. Keep drain plug out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.
You May Not:
Transport aquatic plants, water, or prohibited invasive species such as zebra mussels or Eurasian watermilfoil.
SCUBA Diving Permits
If not properly cleaned, drained, and dried, SCUBA diving equipment has the potential to spread aquatic invasive species between waterbodies. Once a lake is infested with zebra mussels or other invaders, SCUBA diving can be hindered by increased plant growth, dense mussel growth on underwater attractions, and sharp mussel shells that may damage dive clothing and equipment. If you plan to SCUBA dive on any MPRB waterbody, you must first obtain a permit and take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of AIS.
Additional Recommended Precautions:
To remove or kill hard-to-see aquatic invasive species before moving to other water bodies the following is advised:
- Spray watercraft and water-related equipment with high-pressure water and rinse with very hot water and/or
- Dry boats and water-related equipment for at least five days
- Report new sightings of aquatic invasive species. If you suspect a new infestation of an invasive plant or animal, save a specimen and report it to a local natural resource office.
Additional AIS Prevention Information
AIS Threat to Minneapolis Waters
Minnesota’s waterways are threatened by a number of aquatic invasive species (AIS). AIS are not native to Minnesota. They can cause economic and environmental harm as well as having negative impacts on human health. Once an AIS is established it is nearly impossible to eliminate. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is taking steps to ensure that our water resources can be enjoyed for years to come by committing to AIS prevention efforts. The MPRB has been actively monitoring AIS since the late 1980s when Eurasian watermilfoil was first discovered in the Chain of Lakes. Some of the City’s water bodies do contain AIS, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, and common carp. There are, however, several species that have not established themselves in our lakes. New infestations of AIS occur in neighboring lakes and rivers throughout the state and MPRB’s inspection program is designed to slow the spread of those species as long as possible without restricting boater access to the lake. Visit the DNR’s website for the most up-to-date infested waters list, detailed biological information and current regulations on aquatic invasive species. Successful aquatic plant management is key to providing recreational opportunities in Minneapolis lakes. Plants that grow in and around water can have an impact on the long-term health of our area lakes. For this reason, the MPRB completes aquatic plant surveys on lakes every two to three years. These surveys document the increase or decrease in current aquatic plant species and changes in biodiversity.
View the MPRB Water Resources Report for detailed annual monitoring data, data collection methods, and more.
AIS Management Methods
AIS Management Methods
Harvesting is currently the best management option that the MPRB has to control aquatic plants, including Eurasian watermilfoil, an aquatic invasive species that is prevalent in many Minneapolis lakes. Minnesota DNR-issued permits limit the area of milfoil that can be harvested each year. Harvesting is done primarily in swimming areas and around boat launches. A machine called a mechanical harvester removes plants that are in the top six feet of water. This temporarily allows for trouble-free boating and swimming, and allows sunlight to penetrate to native plants below.
Species Currently Found in Minneapolis Waters
The yellow iris is a regulated invasive species in Minnesota. This Eurasian species is sold commercially for use in garden pools but when it escapes it competes with native shore land vegetation. Residents should take care not to allow aquarium and landscape plants or animals to escape into the surrounding environment.
Reed canary grass is a major threat to natural wetlands. It outcompetes most native species and forms large, single-species stands, with which other species cannot compete. This Eurasian species has been planted throughout the U.S. since the 1800s for forage and erosion control. While many Minnesota state agencies have removed it from their planting lists, it is still being planted in the state.
Each of these species can reproduce to very high densities. These bottom-feeding fish are capable of disturbing lake beds to the extent that water quality can be diminished. Lakes with an overgrowth of European carp typically have high phosphorus concentrations, low water clarity, and little to no aquatic plant growth. Carp eat vegetation and can alter or destroy the aquatic plant community in a lake.
Species of Concern to Minneapolis Waterways
The Minnehaha Creek Watersheds Least Wanted list gives detailed information about the following AIS that are of concern to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board:
- Asian carp
- Brazilian elodea
- New Zealand mud snail
- Quagga mussels
- Round goby
- Rusty crayfish
- Spiny water flea
- Starry stonewort
- Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)
Frequently Asked Questions about the MPRB AIS Watercraft Inspection and Education Program
Visit the Boat Launches and Rentals section for more information about boat launch hours and AIS inspections.
AIS threaten native plants and animals, which in turn alters the lake’s ecology. These changes can significantly interfere with both the beauty and recreational use of lakes. Some AIS, e.g. zebra mussels, can also have social impacts, such as cutting the feet of swimmers on beaches.
No. While the lakes are already affected by some AIS, including Eurasian watermilfoil, there are still many species, with far worse impacts, that can be prevented from entering and harming the lakes. States that have implemented similar education and inspection programs have significantly slowed the spread of AIS.
The MPRB is focusing its prevention efforts against many invasive species of plant, animal and disease, including many that currently do not occupy Minneapolis lakes, but are present in other bodies of water that Minneapolis lake visitors frequent. Learn more about AIS from the Minnesota DNR.
Based on data collected since 2013, DNR training dates, and average ice off dates; May 1 was determined to be the best date for opening the launches. December 1 is just before ice on, is the last day of muskie fishing season, and was therefore determined to be the best date for closing the launches.
Most inspections are done relatively quickly and completed in less than five minutes. However, if cleaning is required, boaters may be delayed.
Boaters who refuse inspections will be denied access from launching watercraft into a lake.
AIS inspections will be enforced on watercraft and equipment accessing launches at Lake Bde Maka Ska, Lake Harriet and Lake Nokomis.
No. Gas powered motors are not allowed on Minneapolis city lakes. Only electric trolling motors are allowed to be used. If you have a gas powered motor on your boat, it must be propped up and out of the water. Boats with gas powered motors in the water and in use without a permit will be reported to law enforcement.
Although some anglers still might not think twice about dumping leftover live bait into a lake or river when they are done fishing, this transport of water is another pathway for AIS to move from one body of water to another. Most bait species are also not native to Minneapolis lakes so could disrupt the ecosystems. The MPRB and DNR encourage anglers to dispose of live bait in the well-marked trash receptacles available for bait disposal at launches, fishing docks, and high-use shoreline fishing areas throughout the park system. It is illegal to release live bait into a water body as well as to knowingly (or unknowingly) transport water from AIS infested waters.
Under Minnesota aquatic invasive species laws: You Must:
- Clean visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited species from watercraft, trailers, and equipment before transporting from any water access.
- Drain water from bilge, live well, motor, ballast tanks, and portable bait containers before leaving water accesses or shoreline property.
- Keep drain plug out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.
- Dump unwanted bait in the trash or refill bait container with bottled or tap water.
You May Not:
- Transport aquatic plants, water, or prohibited invasive species such as zebra mussels or Eurasian watermilfoil.
- Dump live bait into state waters, on shore, or on the ground.
- Launch, or attempt to place watercraft, trailers or equipment with aquatic plants, zebra mussels, or prohibited invasive species into any state waters.