It’s official. Governor Whitmer has once again declared June 28 through July 5, 2020 to be Michigan’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Week. To help celebrate and raise awareness, a Landing Blitz will occur at over 30 boat launches throughout the state to remind watercraft owners they should follow best practices and clean their boats, trailers, and equipment to help control the spread of AIS. These education and outreach events are brought to you by the Conservation Districts, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) along with many local conservation organizations and volunteers.
Why the Big Concern over AIS?
Eurasian watermilfoil, rock snot, starry stonewort, spiny water flea, and red swamp crayfish may sound like crazy science fiction critters but all of them live in Michigan waterways and they are not welcome here. Each one is an aquatic invasive species and has the potential to harm Michigan’s environment, economy and human health. AIS crowd out native species and form dense monocultures that limit food and habitat for native species, block access for boaters and anglers, and damage equipment such as boat motors and fishing gear. Kevin Walters, an EGLE aquatic biologist states that “people value good access to lakes and rivers, quality fishing opportunities for Michigan’s native sport fish species, and keeping boat hulls, motors and docks free from damaging and costly invasive species, so concern over AIS is warranted.‘
What Can You Do? Clean, Drain, and Dry.
The Clean, Drain, Dry Initiative is a collaboration between Wildlife Forever and over 2500 other organizations across the nation to stop the spread of AIS. The Clean, Drain, Dry concept is simple and even if you don’t know whether the lake or river you are on is impacted by AIS, it’s still important to take the appropriate measures to avoid allowing them to hitch a ride to the next body of water you’re going to explore if they are there. Follow these easy steps:
• Clean boats, trailers, and equipment of aquatic organisms, including plants.
• Drain live wells, bilges, and all water by pulling drain plugs before leaving the boat launch.
• Dry boats and equipment for a few minutes before hitting the road.
• Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash, not the lake or river.
• Release fish only into the same water body where they were caught to avoid the spread of invasive species and fish diseases.
You can visit www.CleanDrainDry.org for more information about this project and take the Clean Drain Dry Pledge. Taking the pledge confirms your support of this initiative and provides you with access to invasive species updates, newsletters, and outreach support materials.
It’s the Law.
As of March 21, 2019 the Clean Drain Dry initiative became law in the state of Michigan. The Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Act 451 of 1994) Part 413 was amended with changes intended to strengthen protection for Michigan waterways against the introduction and spread of AIS. Violation of this law is a state civil infraction. Violators may be subject to fines of up to $100. MDNR’s Law Enforcement Division will once again be on the lookout for violators this year, but more importantly, they will be partnering with lake associations and boating organizations to get the word out. To learn more about this law and invasive species initiatives within the state of Michigan or to report new AIS, check out www.michigan.gov/Invasives.
Missaukee Conservation District Gets in on the Action.
The Missaukee Conservation District will be hosting a Landing Blitz at Missaukee County Park on Thursday, July 2, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Boaters will be provided with informational handouts and goodies promoting the Clean Drain Dry initiative as well as a guide for identification of the Michigan watch list of aquatic invasive plants. It will be an opportunity for boaters to ask questions regarding the boating laws and what they can do to help prevent the spread of AIS. Look for the Clean, Drain, and Dry tent and aprons.
Michelle Hill is the Missaukee Conservation District Program Coordinator. For more information on the Landing Blitz or Clean, Drain, Dry call 231.839.7193 or email email@example.com.