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Volunteer invasive species inspectors make a difference

June 1, 2012
By NIKKI YOUNK - Staff Writer , The Daily News

AURORA, Wis. - Volunteer inspectors with the Clean Boats Clean Waters (CBCW) program will be busy monitoring Wisconsin waterways this summer in order to educate boaters about invasive species and Wisconsin's invasive species law.

In Wisconsin, it is illegal to:

- Place any boating equipment with attached aquatic plants and/or animals into navigable waters.

Article Photos

Nikki Younk/Daily News Photo
William Tuck guides Clean Boats Clean Waters volunteer inspectors through a mock boat inspection at the Aurora Town Hall. Pictured are, from left, Juanita Artrip, Catherine Holmes, Tuck, and Dennis Doll.

- Leave a boat launch area without first removing all attached aquatic plants and/or animals and draining all water from any boating equipment.

- Transport boating equipment with attached aquatic plants and/or animals on public highways.

Violators could face fines of up to several hundred dollars for a first offense, and up

to $2,000 for repeat offenses.

William Tuck, aquatic invasive species coordinator for Florence County, and Jennifer Johnson, coordinator for the Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition (WRISC), recently held a CBCW inspector training session at the Aurora Town Hall.

According to Johnson, there are 15,081 lakes and 43,000 miles of rivers and streams in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that as of fall 2011, approximately 33 percent of those lakes contained invasive milfoil, zebra mussels, or both.

Invasive species can spread rapidly, affecting native species, ecosystem function, and possibly human health.

In Florence County, milfoil has been documented in Lake Ellwood and Frog Lake in Spread Eagle, Seidel Lake in Fern, and various areas of the Menominee River. Zebra mussels are present in Keyes Lake in Florence.

Johnson added that about one million boats travel on Wisconsin waters each year and could potentially spread invasive species from lake to lake.

"There's a lot of traffic up north to our local waters on the weekends," said Johnson. "Inspectors can really make a difference."

Inspectors' duties include informing boaters, performing boat inspections, removing any attached invasive species, and collecting and reporting data.

"The idea is to teach boaters so they can do the removal and prevention steps themselves," Johnson explained.

Steps include removing any visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from boats and trailers; draining all water from boats, motors, bilges, live wells, bait containers, and equipment; disposing of any unwanted bait in the trash, not in the water; and either rinsing boats with hot water of at least 104 degrees or letting them dry for at least five days.

Although volunteer inspectors cannot enforce the law, they can document any violations and report them to the Wisconsin DNR.

The CBCW program is run by the Wisconsin DNR and the University of Wisconsin Extension. For more information, visit the Wisconsin DNR website at dnr.wi.gov/.

Nikki Younk's e-mail address is nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.

 
 

 

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