As I unloaded my boat at Snail Lake on Saturday morning, a uniformed individual ambled up to me and asked me if my boat had been checked for exotics. I was all ready with a smart ass reply when my warning radar regarding minor government bureaucrats kicked in. I’m convinced that any time there is an ‘inspection’ that something can be found which will result in citations being written and money flowing out of your wallet. So I politely and in a very interested manner said, “Why no officer, but I realize the importance of such inspections, what with the Eurasian Milfoil, sea lampreys, zebra mussels, and other nasty stuff introduced to our lakes from European ballast water being discharged in Great Lakes ports.”. Anyone who is old enough to be remember Eddie Haskell complimenting Mrs.Cleaver on her lovely house dress would appreciate the exact tone I used. He beamed, assuming I was a believer and not the redneck guy with a bass boat , 150hp Merc, live wells, trolling motor, etc. berating the DNR for violating his rights and ransacking his beloved rig. In any event it was a cursory inspection until I glanced at my skeg cord and saw it……..the thing that could get me cited and fined if the DNR guy saw it too. That tiny bit of green lake weed, sun reflecting off its slimy, green luminescent strands. I quickly yanked the boat off the roof, set it on the grass, asking the officer if he’d like to check my cockpit area. He took a quick peek, noted my valid boat sticker, and began punching data into his Blackberry, Palm or whatever those damn things are. He asked the name of the last lake the boat was on but for some reason ‘Superior’ wasn’t in the Minnesota DNR database. He asked me the next lake the boat would be in and I answered White Bear, scene of BjornDahlieOfMahtomedi’s 50th birthday paddle later that afternoon. He finished his data input, gave me my inspection sticker, we exchanged pleasantries, and I was free to paddle.
All kidding and joking aside, I did learn a lesson. I just didn’t want it reinforced with a hefty fine. We kayakers think we’re green, carbon neutral, and all the other eco-buzz words but we still need to keep our eyes open for the little things, like that piece of seaweed on the skeg cord, whether it was milfoil or not. Cleaning off the hull, rinsing the cockpit, checking paddle joints, fishing gear, and generally giving your boat the ‘once over’ will help insure the lakes that are still free of the nasty exotics will stay that way. The mildly depressing thing however, is it only takes one screwup to infest a lake. I just want to make sure it’s not me. Or you for that matter.
P.S. Congrats again to Bjorn for entering the next half century. My guess is that he’ll clean up in the various cross country ski, kayak, bike, and other races where he will now be in the 50+ age group. We see him in the photo, lounging in his kayak, paddle shoved into a White Bear mud flat. No beer in his hand yet but that will indeed come later.