Last year, invasive zebra mussels were found in Rainy Lake.
In response, the National Park Service is starting a decontamination protocol at Gold Portage and Kettle Falls in Voyageurs National Park to prevent the invasive species’ spread.
Starting May 13, any watercraft, trailer, or float plane that has been on Rainy Lake must disinfect before launching in any other park lakes.
The Park Service says staff will spray boats with hot water. Boaters can expect to drain bait containers, live wells, ballast tanks, and bilge areas. When going between lakes, anglers must prepare to transport fish on ice.
Boaters will only be allowed to travel into Rainy Lake via the Gold Portage. Travel from Rainy into Kabetogama is now prohibited.
At Kettle Falls, boaters are allowed to travel both directions after disinfection. The Park Service warns of possible delays because of the protocol.
When going from Namakan to Rainy, boaters will need to drain everything, but purification won’t be required.
These measures are to prevent the species from further spreading.
Zebra mussels can harm aquatic ecosystems by reducing native fish and mussel populations. They can clog water intake systems, foul boat motors, and reduce waterfront property values.
Rainy Lake is now one of about four per cent of lakes in Minnesota that are infested with zebra mussels.
Zebra mussels, which are native to Europe and Asia, entered into the Great Lakes in the 1980s. As of 2020, zebra mussels have spread as far west as Manitoba.