The fifth annual Landing Blitz is just around the corner and the number of participants is growing rapidly. From Thursday, July 4 through Sunday, July 7, Clean Boats, Clean Waters crews will be making a splash against aquatic invasive species (AIS) at boat landings in 53 Wisconsin counties on more than 250 lakes and rivers, up from 200 last year.
This year’s 150+ participating groups illustrate the widespread support for preventing the spread of AIS among State waterways. Among the participants and supporters is staff from towns, villages, counties, a regional planning commission, and tribal governments. Strong support comes from numerous lake associations, lake districts, and sanitary districts on specific lakes or chains of lakes and includes several new lake groups. Also new this year, junior and senior environmental science students from the Siren School District will be covering six lakes by each volunteering 16 hours of their time.
The Clean Boats, Clean Waters program operates throughout the boating season but the Landing Blitz, on the busiest boating weekend, highlights these efforts at educating boaters on what they can do – and as required by law – to prevent the spread of AIS. These steps include Inspecting boats and trailers for plants or animals, Removing any attached organisms, Draining all lake water from live wells and bilges, and Never Moving live fish or lake water away from a lake. Some exceptions for live bait can be found at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/invasives/boat.html.
Boaters found practicing the prevention steps might again be rewarded with one of the complimentary towels the Department is providing our Landing Blitz partners. Ken Grissman, vice president of the Berry Lake Association, reported, “Both adults and children were pleased last year with the educational materials from the DNR. I am still seeing towels from last year being used and reminding boaters to inspect, clean and remove AIS from their boats.” We are hoping that these towels will help boaters wipe out the spread of AIS to other lakes and waterways.
Again this year, State Representatives will be visiting landings during the Blitz. Berry Lake in Oconto County will be hosting Rep. Jeffrey Mursau of Crivitz. Rep. Mursau has supported AIS control measures with increased state appropriations and, in 2011, hosted a bipartisan hearing on invasive Asian carp with Representative Cory Mason of Racine. At that time Mursau said, “Invasives and exotics change our environment, our natural resources, our economy and the way we live.” Berry Lake Association spokesperson Brian Ewert says, “We are impressed that Representative Mursau not only understands the threat aquatic invasive species pose to our waterways, but is a leader on AIS in the State Assembly and cares enough to spend part of his holiday with his constituents on the front lines.” In addition, Rep. Steve Kestell of Herman will be visiting the Elkhart Lake landing in Sheboygan County.
An effort of this size and reach would not be possible without the continued enthusiasm, dedication and hard work of our lake partners. That enthusiasm is illustrated by Frosty Smith of the Lake Thompson Association who says, “This is a battle that we can all win.” Our hats are off to all of them!