KINGSFORD - The Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition's application "Slow The Spread: Earthworm Education for Anglers" project has been accepted by the BoatU.S. Foundation Grassroots Grant, and now needs votes from area residents.
The BoatU.S. Foundation, a non-profit organization, awards local volunteer organizations up to $4,000 for the promotion of safe and clean boating education.
The Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition has selected the earthworm project. Earthworms are not native to the Great Lake States.
European settlers brought earthworms with them when they settled here, said Jennifer Johnson, coordinator at the Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition.
At least 15 non-native
earthworm species have been documented in this region.
Earthworms are detrimental to hardwood forests because they consume the duff layer and mix soil layers, permanently altering the forest floor.
The duff layer is the natural growing environment for wildflowers and ferns, ground nesting birds, reptiles, amphibians, and some small mammals.
When earthworms invade, they eat the duff layer and destroy this critical habitat and kill tree seedlings. Once a forest has been invaded by earthworms, they can't be removed, Johnson said.
The only way to protect forests is to prevent new earthworm infestations.
The Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition is a Cooperative Weed Management Area whose management area includes northeast Wisconsin and the southwestern Upper Peninsula.
The Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition is currently competing for a nationwide grant to secure funds to provide education to anglers about proper earthworm bait disposal and the impacts earthworms have on the ecosystems here.
To learn more about earthworms and the Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition, visit www.wrisc.org.
Now that the grant application was accepted it is one of 13 projects selected nationwide for the final phase - a voting round. The project with the most votes gets their project funded, Johnson said.
Voting has started and closes March 15.
"Please help WRISC with this project by casting your vote," Johnson said.
"You can vote once on the BoatUS website and once on the Facebook page per day," Johnson said. "Please vote to help us fund this project. You can vote daily on both pages and your votes can get us there."
To vote, visit "Slow the Spread: Earthworm Education for Anglers"
For more information, email the Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Johnson or Ann Hruska at 774-8441.
Theresa Peterson's e-mail address is email@example.com