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Cracking down on invasive species and keeping people safe on the water in Detroit Lakes

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Detroit Lakes, MN (WDAY/WDAZ TV) - Many in lakes country are giving a warning: If you want to enjoy the waters of Detroit Lakes, you better make sure to be following the laws.

Starting this weekend, more patrols will be out on the lakes, and people who live there are behind increased enforcement 100 percent.

It was a beautiful day for visitors to be out enjoying the lakes, but some citizens believe the waters they call home are at high risk for outside problems to infest in the area.

Greg Nelson/Minnesota DNR Regional Director, "You know the old saying is if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. So, we all need to take that responsibility, we've got an obligation to protect our water resources."

The Lake Detroiters had their 71st annual meeting discussing everything from boating regulations to aquatic invasive species.

Dick Hecock/Resident, "Controlling Flowering rush, which has been a major nuisance for the lake in the last 20, 25, 30 years and for the four to five years we've made great progress in making that less of a problem on the lake."

Residents welcome visitors from different lakes, but it comes with a cost. One of the bigger worries: zebra mussels.

Dick Hecock/Resident, "A lot of these boats come from lakes that are infested with zebra mussels, and we know that and so we are very concerned that Detroit is vulnerable here."

Especially with the holiday weekend coming up. Detroit Lakes residents want to make sure that boats coming in and out of the lakes from other area lakes are all abiding by boat regulations and law enforcement will be out, but for a different reason.

Phillip Seefeldt/Minnesota DNR: "In the past five years, 42 percent of boating related fatalities have involved the use of alcohol."

Operation Dry Water starts now. The DNR along with other law enforcement agencies will be making sure everyone is boating in a safe environment.

Phillip Seefeldt/Minnesota DNR, "It is not illegal to drink out on the lakes, but it is illegal for the operator of the boat to be operating a boat under the influence or have a blood alcohol content of .08 or over."

In our area, deadly boating accidents are not common, but the DNR says the extra patrol during the summer months has helped with that statistic.

Seefeldt, "We want people out on these lakes creating memories. We just don't want it to be a long term bad memory."

The Minnesota DNR says that if caught boating while under the influence, the operator could face fines, have their license and even boat confiscated by authorities. 

Sophia Borrelli
Sophia Borrelli is honored to join the WDAY/WDAZ newsrooms. Being an East Coast girl all her life, she is ready to explore the Midwest. Sophia was raised outside Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. She is a proud alumni of orange nation, graduating from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Before joining the WDAY/WDAZ team, she interned in news rooms including CNY Central in Syracuse, NY, WPXI in Pittsburgh, PA and WMGM in Atlantic City, NJ. In her time off, Sophia loves to visit the lakes, cook, and take her dog for walks. If you have an idea for a story or just want to say hi, don't be shy! 
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