Keep invasive species out of the Boundary Waters

The Boundary Waters is a special place and everyone who visits the BWCAW can help ensure it remains that way. Terrestrial and aquatic invasive species can cause irreparable damage to an ecosystem. When heading to the Boundary Waters with your own camping equipment make sure it is clean.

All gear should be physically inspected before bringing it into the BWCAW. Tents and hammocks should be free of dirt and/or seeds that could be spread. All firewood used should be from the local area so it is free of emerald ash borer or spongy moth. Bait used for fishing should be disposed of properly and crawlers should never be disposed of on the ground. Help keep the water clean and free of invasive species by following the steps provided by the Minnesota DNR to ensure you are not bringing any along with you.

Clean In Clean Out

When boating or fishing in Minnesota, protect your waters by following state aquatic invasive species laws



1. CLEAN all visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species from watercraft, trailers, and water-related equipment before leaving any water access or shoreland.


2. DRAIN water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait containers, motor) and drain bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs before leaving a water access or shoreline property. Keep drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.

Q&A – Boat draining, drain plugs, and bait container draining (PDF)


3. DISPOSE of unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, and worms, in the trash. It is illegal to release bait into a waterbody or release aquatic animals from one waterbody to another. If you want to keep your bait, you must refill the bait container with bottled or tap water.

KNOW THE LAW: You may not…

  • Transport watercraft without removing the drain plug.
  • Arrive at lake access with drain plug in place.
  • Transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels, or other prohibited species on any roadway.
  • Launch a watercraft with prohibited species attached.
  • Transport water from Minnesota lakes or rivers.
  • Release bait into the water.



Spray, rinse, dry — Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving zebra mussel and spiny waterflea infested waters:     

  • Spray with high-pressure water
  • Rinse with very hot water*
  • Dry for at least 5 days

Run motor and personal watercraft for a few seconds to discharge water before leaving a water access.

Transport fish on ice — be prepared, bring a cooler.

* These water temperatures will kill zebra mussels and some other AIS: 120°F for at least 2 minutes; or 140°F for at least 10 seconds.

movie icon Watch the Clean, Drain, Dry opens in a new browser tab video »