Aquatic Invasive Species



Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Program

We’ve partnered with the MN DNR, the Burntside Lake Association, and the Vermilion Lake Association to offer watercraft inspection and decontamination services in the Ely, Cook, and Tower areas. Funding is provided by St Louis County AIS Prevention Program.

Watercraft Inspections

Watercraft inspectors are trained and certified by the MN DNR to visually and tactilely inspect watercraft for aquatic invasive species or anything else that could potentially spread AIS, such as water, mud, plants or other debris. Inspectors educate boaters about the issues and impacts of AIS and inform boaters of the laws regarding AIS transportation. Inspectors also demonstrate to boaters how to inspect and remove AIS from boating equipment prior to leaving the lake access. Most inspections are quick, taking less than three minutes. However, if decontamination is required, boaters will be delayed. Inspectors are stationed at public and private accesses around Burntside Lake and Lake Vermilion from Walleye Fishing Opener through mid-late October annually.

Watercraft Decontaminations

Decontamination services are offered at no charge to watercraft owners in the Cook, Tower, and Ely areas. Watercraft users can get their boat, canoe, kayak, jet ski, etc. decontaminated in 10-20 minutes. It’s a voluntary process but according to state law, watercraft found with AIS must be decontaminated before launching.

Near Lake Vermilion, decontamination units are positioned at convenience store parking lots on each end of the lake – the Y Store near Tower and the Country Store in Cook. In the Ely area, there is one decontamination unit conveniently located on Shagawa Lake and one positioned at Van Vac Landing on Burntside Lake.

These centrally-located decontamination units are staffed Memorial Day weekend through mid-September annually.

All watercraft inspectors are hired through Always There Staffing.

Project Partners:


Vermilion Lake Association

Burntside Lake Association


Wildlife Forever: Above and Below the Waterline


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North St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District Northland Office Building

307 1st St S, Suite 114
Virginia, MN 55792

Upcoming Board Meetings

Wednesday, March 14 at 10:30 a.m. Suite 118
The public is encouraged to attend.

View Meeting Schedule »
Minnesota Clean Air and Water Legacy Amendment