This spring, Department of Natural Resources lake and grants staff from around the state assembled in Stevens Point to decide how best to allocate funds to grant requests from partners working to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). At the end of two days, almost $2.5 million had been assigned to 101 projects in 42 counties (see map). These funds are divided among four kinds of AIS grants: 1) Research and Development; 2) Established Population Control; 3) Early Detection and Rapid Response; and 4) Education, Prevention and Planning.
These funds went to our partners’ efforts to halt the establishment and spread of various AIS, including invasive plants like Eurasian water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed, purple loosestrife, yellow floating heart, Japanese knotweed and the invasive, non-native form of common reed. In addition, funds were allocated to eradicating the red swamp crayfish from its only Wisconsin toehold near Milwaukee. Partners winning grants included numerous lake associations, lake and sanitary Districts, counties, towns, cities, two universities, and several non-profit groups.
Two research efforts were funded. The first is to complete a University of Wisconsin study on eradicating rainbow smelt from Crystal Lake in Vilas County. This research uses six large inflatable bladders to mix the lake water during the summer. Normally, this lake stratifies with warm water on top and cooler water, which the smelt need, near the bottom. By mixing these layers and warming the bottom layer, researchers hope to learn if the lake can be made inhospitable to the invasive smelt and eliminate them. The second research project is for a study being started at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point that will study predation on native milfoil weevils. These weevils feed on the invasive Eurasian water milfoil (EWM). Previous studies that released the weevils to control EWM had mixed results. This study works to understand if predation is limiting the weevil populations and their potential to reduce EWM.
Demonstrating the economic benefits of preventing establishment of AIS, early detection and rapid response grant supported 17 projects at one-third the price ($283,000), when compared to the cost of dealing with established populations.
Further, 71 projects involving Education, Prevention and Planning were funded. These projects strive to prevent AIS from entering new lakes through efforts such as education, outreach and boat inspections. The new, streamlined grant process developed for Clean Boats Clean Waters efforts provided over $227,000 to 48 CBCW projects.
A renewed campaign to alert boaters and anglers to the voluntary $2.00 contributions they can make when registering boats or buying a fishing license, resulted in markedly increased contributions and helped support one Education, Prevention and Planning project in Portage County and the previously mentioned funding for research. It’s gratifying to see boaters and anglers springing to the aid of statewide efforts to control the AIS which diminish the quality of the lakes they enjoy and cherish.