Who is the boat inspector at my access?
It could be any one of four different types. All four types of inspectors work at most accesses.
DNR Conservation Officer: A licensed peace officer who enforces Minnesota laws.
They wear distinctive uniforms. They can bar a boat from launching, issue citations, and make arrests.
DNR Inspectors: The DNR hires and trains college students as DNR Level 1 inspectors. They will have DNR shoulder patches on their uniforms. They also will have in place a very visible vertical banner staked into the ground near their inspection site.
Local Government Unit Inspectors (LGU): Crow Wing County has a program that supervises Level I inspectors. They may be of any age. They will have identification issued by Crow Wing County. They are trained by the DNR as Level I inspectors.
Volunteer inspectors: WAPOA arranges for them to have DNR volunteer training. They wear a distinctive cap with a red logo and the message “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” They also identify themselves as volunteers.
Who pays the inspectors?
It is complicated!
WAPOA shares the cost with the DNR for many of DNR college age inspectors. The DNR also provides some hours “free.” WAPOA pays the full cost for some of the inspectors administered by the County. The County also receives money from the state to pay for some of the County inspectors. WAPOA volunteers donate their time but do have equipment provided by WAPOA. A summer campground host at the Corps access works in return for a campsite.
What authority do they have?
Level 1 inspectors —DNR and County LGU— have the legal authority to deny launching a boat. If a boat is launched with suspected invasive species they will immediately call a MN Conservation Officer.
Volunteers have no authority. They are present to inform the public about invasive species. The volunteers do not have the power to deny launching a boat. With 26% of boats having some sort of violation they can give tips to a boater and explain what is required by law. That may well help the boater obey the law and avoid a possible citation, should they be stopped by a Conservation Officer.
The advice might help the boater protect his live well pump and tubing from zebra mussels.
The advice might also save the lake from an invasive species.