April 25, 2014

Boaters watching for hitch-hikers

The fourth annual Landing Blitz continues over the holiday week.

The DNR is making sure boaters know the importance of preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, whose presence on Wisconsin’s waterways can have a direct and significant monetary impact on the economy. Bob Wakeman is Wisconsin’s Statewide Aquatic Invasive Species coordinator with the DNR. “They can decrease the number of fish caught; they can increase the amount of money that we must spend in order to maintain open water in our lakes; they can clog our pipes and our irrigation systems. So there probably isn’t anybody that would use a lake that wouldn’t be affected by aquatic invasive species — either directly or indirectly.”

Wakeman says his staff and volunteers help educate boaters about preventive measures. The DNR’s website has information on invasive species and how to avoid spreading them. “The bottom line is the four preventative steps: inspect, remove, drain, and never move live fish. If we can get boaters to do that, we’ll be in much better shape.”

Aquatic invasive species can crowd out native species, disrupt lake ecosystems and interfere with boating, fishing and other recreation. They create extra costs and lost value to homeowners and to state industries such as utilities, real estate, manufacturing, shipping, tourism, fishing and recreation.

Wakeman says there are more volunteers and more compliance every year, contributing to the program’s success. Wakeman says, based on polls, surveys, and contact with the public, 94 percent of the public reports knowing about the aquatic invasive species laws.

This year’s Landing Blitz runs from June 29 to July 9.