June 2012

The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.



Q: Are there statewide rules about where I can place my dock?

A: Statewide rules do not specify where a dock needs to be placed. However, there are a few rules to keep in mind. You need to own or control the land from which your dock originates, and avoid posted fish spawning areas. You cannot install a dock that obstructs navigation or creates a water safety hazard.

Docks and lifts should be placed so that mooring and maneuvering of your watercraft can normally be confined within your property lines as if they were extended into the water perpendicular to the shoreline. Due to the curvature of some shorelines and the configuration of lots, sometimes property lines extending into the water can run at angles, rather than perpendicular to the shoreline.

There are some counties and communities around the state that have adopted ordinances that regulate lot line setbacks and other aspects of dock placement. Your local planning and zoning office should be able to answer questions about local restrictions on dock placement.

For more information about docks and access in public waters, go to http://go.usa.gov/VD7.

-Tom Hovey, DNR public waters hydrologist




Q: I've seen Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) watercraft inspectors using big pressure washers. What are they doing?

A: To protect Minnesota lakes and rivers, the Legislature gave the DNR greater authority to inspect and decontaminate watercraft and other water-related equipment that is at risk of carrying aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels. Watercraft inspectors have been trained to implement the new inspection rules and operate 23 decontamination (boat washing) units.

These portable decontamination units are capable of spraying 160-degree water at high pressure. The equipment will be used to remove zebra mussels from boat hulls and treat livewells and other areas that can harbor invasive species.

Most boats won't need to be decontaminated with the high-pressure wash, only those that do not pass an inspection.

People can help by:

For more information, go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives.

-Heidi Wolf, DNR Watercraft Inspection Program supervisor



Q: What is the purpose of native aquatic plants along a shoreline?

A: Aquatic plants are essential components of most freshwater ecosystems. Many of Minnesota's most sought-after fish species depend heavily on aquatic vegetation for food, protection from predators and reproduction. In addition to fish, many wildlife species depend on aquatic plants for food and nesting sites.
Aquatic plants not eaten directly by waterfowl support many insects and other aquatic invertebrates that serve as important food sources for migratory birds and their young. Emergent aquatic vegetation also provides nesting cover for a variety of waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds and songbirds. The reproductive success of ducks nesting near lakes, for example, is closely tied to the availability of aquatic plants. Beyond providing food and shelter for fish and wildlife, aquatic vegetation maintains water clarity, prevents suspension of bottom sediments and limits shoreline erosion by moderating the effects of wave and ice erosion. A healthy native plant community also prevents the establishment of non-native invasive aquatic plants. In short, many of the things that we enjoy most about lakes are directly linked to aquatic vegetation.

- Steve Enger, DNR Aquatic Plant Management Program coordinator

DNR Question of the Week Archive