6 decontamination units visit St. Croix River July 14-15

Six boat decontamination units will visit the St. Croix River on July 14 and 15. These units will decontaminate boats to aid in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Decontamination units are portable, high-pressure and high-temperature wash units that allow boat inspectors to decontaminate watercraft at public water accesses without allowing any of the water to run off. These units help remove invasive species from boats and protect waterways.

AIS are non-native species that cause environmental or economic harm, or harm to human health. AIS in the St. Croix River include zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, curlyleaf pondweed, bighead carp, rusty crayfish and Asian clams. Decontamination units help ensure humans do not spread those species to nearby water bodies, and protect the St. Croix from new invaders.

AIS are a threat to the overall health of the St. Croix River and its tributaries. One of the first eight nationally designated wild and scenic rivers, the St. Croix is one of the cleanest tributaries to the Mississippi River. It is a high-value fishery, and the healthy, diverse ecosystem includes at least 40 species of mussels, several of which are rare or endangered, according to the St. Croix River Association.

The introduction of aggressive invasive species into this complex system threatens the ecological integrity of the river, as well as the unique cultural resources and outdoor heritage of the area, says the association.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will staff three units on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River at landings in Prescott, Hudson, and St. Croix Falls.

The Minnesota DNR will staff two units on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River at landings in Washington County.

Chisago County will staff one unit on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River at Osceola Landing in Chisago County. The inspectors will clean boats at risk of spreading aggressive AIS.

Four St. Croix River Association interns working in the aquatic invasive species program will join the Wisconsin DNR as Clean Boats, Clean Waters ambassadors to remind boaters to clean, drain, and dry their boats.