CADILLAC —With one of the busiest boating weeks of the year here, the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area is looking to educate the public about invasive species.
On Monday, members of the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area hosted a boat launch event in Cadillac at the Lake Cadillac boat launch off of Chestnut Street. A second event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Lake Missaukee boat launch at the Missaukee County Park.
North Country CISMA outreach organizer Jenna Johnson said the two events in Wexford and Missaukee counties are to coincide with Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week. Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed June 30-July 7 as the aforementioned awareness week and the House and Senate also adopted resolutions bringing awareness to this issue.
The goal is to educate the public about the impacts of harmful, nonnative aquatic plants and animals, which is critical to protecting the state’s ecosystems, tourism and economy. Because of this, state departments and organizations, such as the North Country CISMA, are observing the week by hosting events at more than 79 boat launches statewide.
In Cadillac Monday and again on Wednesday in Missaukee County, Johnson said they are giving away free waterproof materials that show the various species they are looking to protect Michigan waterways from. She also said they are preaching early detection and rapid response as it is less harmful to the ecosystem and the economy.
They also are educating the public about the new law that went into effect this year regarding requirements to stop the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.
It is now law to not launch or transport watercraft or trailers unless they are free of aquatic organisms including plants. It also is the law to not transport a watercraft without removing all drain plugs and draining all water from bilges, ballast tanks and live wells. It also is against the law to release unused bait into the water.
Anyone found in violation is guilty of a state civil infraction and may be subject to fines.
To help remind people Johnson said the saying “Clean, Drain and Dry‘ is being used. It means people should clean boats, trailers and equipment; drain live wells, bilges, and water; and dry all boats and equipment.
The North County CISMA, which serves Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford counties, is comprised of people and groups concerned about invasive species within a certain geographical area. Since the group formed in 2015, the focus has been inventorying the invasive species already in the area, educating the public on possible future invasive species and how to keep those species out of our lakes and forests.