Great Lakes states, provinces lead region-wide campaign to raise awareness of aquatic invasive species prevention
Ann Arbor, Mich. – This summer, hundreds of agency and volunteer partners will be at water access sites throughout the Great Lakes region to inform boaters and others of the risks of spreading aquatic invasive species (AIS). The Great Lakes Commission is working with states and provinces to coordinate the AIS Landing Blitz from June 28 to July 7 across the region.
U.S. and Canadian groups will work across the Great Lakes Basin to show boaters how to properly inspect and clean boats, trailers and other equipment to prevent the spread of AIS. Volunteers, along with paid inspectors, are partnering with state and provincial agencies at boat launches to educate boaters on procedures to prevent the spread of AIS, ways to identify AIS and report an AIS discovery, and local AIS regulations.
While similar events have been hosted by individual states and provinces in previous years, James Clift, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and Great Lakes Commissioner, says this is the first time that all the Great Lakes states and provinces are involved and coordinating efforts to maximize the event’s impact.
“This is the first time that these valuable educational events will be held simultaneously across the entire Great Lakes region,” said Clift. “It’s a chance to work directly with boaters and deliver a coordinated, regional message about the importance of AIS prevention during the busiest boating weekends of the year.”
Working with local communities and volunteers will be key to the success of the event, says Steve Galarneau, director of Wisconsin’s Office of Great Waters and Great Lakes Commissioner.
“Boaters will have the opportunity to engage directly with volunteers in their community during the Blitz,” Galarneau said. “Seeing community members taking time out of their day reinforces that it takes all of our efforts to help protect our lakes and rivers, including the Great Lakes, from the unwanted impacts of invasive species.”
AIS are recognized as one of the most significant threats to the ecological and economic health of the Great Lakes Basin. More than 180 non-native species are established in the lakes, many of which are invasive and cause harm. Progress is being made to prevent new invasions and reduce the damage from those species already here. Despite this, the region remains vulnerable to the introduction and spread of AIS and these threats are likely to increase with changing weather patterns, including this spring’s severe storms and flooding.
For more information on the AIS Landing Blitz, including educational materials, locations, media contacts, and volunteer opportunities, visit www.glc.org/blitz.
The Great Lakes Commission, led by chair John Linc Stine, former commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission office is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.