Fourth-of-July is Wisconsin’s busiest and best boating holiday, which makes it a great time for the annual Clean Boats, Clean Waters Landing Blitz, July 3 -7. Department of Natural Resources staff, volunteers and regional AIS partners will be at boat launches statewide to remind people that the power to protect against harmful species is shared by all who love Wisconsin’s waters. This year, Wisconsin’s effort is part of a larger event happening throughout the Great Lakes region from June 28-July 7.
Volunteers consult with boaters to underscore importance of cleaning their boats to prevent spread of invasive species.Photo credit: DNR
Aquatic invasive species, or AIS, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, spiny water fleas and zebra mussels, pose great risks to the health of our waters and fisheries, and there are often no known control options to rid the waters of these species. Prevention is the key and it’s in the hands of visitors as well as full-time Wisconsinites. More lakes than ever are participating in 2019 with inspectors giving away Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers boat towels.
“This is the first time that these valuable educational events will be held simultaneously across the entire Great Lakes region. It’s a chance to work directly with boaters and deliver a coordinated, regional message about the importance of AIS prevention during the busiest boating weekend of the year,” said Bob Wakeman, DNR’s statewide AIS coordinator.
Volunteers, AIS partners and DNR boat inspectors will be on hand at landings around the state to demonstrate the prevention steps and answer questions about invasive species. Their efforts will build on the success of last year’s campaign during which volunteers inspected almost 9,000 boats and spoke with more than 18,000 people.
“One of the most exciting things about this campaign is the strong volunteer effort. Every year hundreds of concerned citizens participate as volunteers to help us raise awareness and empower boaters,” says Wakeman.
Invasive plants and animals can spread easily by hitching a ride on boats and other equipment, including trailers. They can also hide in the water in livewells, bait and fish buckets and motors, so it’s important to drain those and drain your boat. Because many invasive species can also be hidden in mud, it’s vital to clean off anchors.
Always take the following simple steps before leaving a boat landing:
- Inspect your boat, trailer and equipment for attached aquatic plants or animals
- Remove all attached plants or animals
- Drain all water from boats, motors, livewells and other equipment
- Never move live fish away from a waterbody
- Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash
- Buy minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer
- Only use leftover minnows when either 1) fishing with them on the same body of water or 2) on other waters if no lake/river water or other fish have been added to the container.
Following these steps also helps boaters comply with Wisconsin state law, which prohibits the transport of aquatic invasive species. To learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin’s waters and economy, visit DNR.wi.govand search “Invasive Species.” For those who use social media, they can help spread the word about the importance of aquatic invasive species prevention by posting photos and messages using #CleanBoatsCleanWaters.