Educating the public about the impacts of harmful, nonnative aquatic plants and animals is critical to protecting our state’s ecosystems, tourism and economy. Because of this, state departments are observing the week, which will feature education and outreach events at more than 79 boat launches statewide.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has partnered with local volunteers, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to give boaters tips to prevent the spread of harmful species and comply with recently updated laws. Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week will feature the sixth annual AIS Landing Blitz, an event at boat landings around the state. This year, the AIS Landing Blitz also has expanded to include events in each of the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces.
The week takes on added importance with the recent discoveries of invasive species such as red swamp crayfish in at least 79 bodies of water, and parrot feather, an invasive aquatic plant, in four separate locations. These are examples of invasive plants and animals that can outcompete native species and take over lakes and ponds.
There are several ways to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Legally prohibited actions in Michigan include the launch or transport watercraft or trailers, unless they are free of aquatic organisms, including plants; transport of a watercraft without removing all drain plugs and draining all water from bilges, ballast tanks and live wells; and release of unused bait into the water.
Recommended actions include cleaning boats, trailers and equipment by removing plants, debris and mud before leaving the access area; disposing of the material in a trash receptacle or otherwise away from the water body, if possible; washing boats and trailers if possible before leaving the access area, at a nearby car wash or at home; drying boats and equipment for five days before launching into a different water body; and disinfecting live wells and bilges with a bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 5 gallons water.)
A short EGLE video from a past Landing Blitz shows how easy it is to clean, drain and dry boats and trailers.
“Everyone has a part to play in helping prevent the spread of invasive species,” said Kevin Walters, aquatic biologist with EGLE. “Education is key to protecting Michigan’s incredible natural resources.”
Events at boat launches are contingent on weather and volunteer availability.
AIS Awareness Week is sponsored by the Water Resources Division at EGLE, in partnership with other state and federal agencies and private and nonprofit organizations. For more information about AIS Awareness Week or the AIS Landing Blitz, visit the website at Michigan.gov/Invasives.
To stay up to date on other EGLE News, follow us at Michigan.gov/MIEnvironment
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