Second annual event raises boater awareness of aquatic invasive species and prevention across the Great Lakes Basin
Great Lakes Basin – This summer hundreds of organizations will reach out virtually and in person to remind boaters and the public about the risks of spreading aquatic invasive species (AIS). The Great Lakes Commission is working with states and provinces to coordinate the second annual Great Lakes AIS Landing Blitz from June 28 to July 10 across the region.
U.S. and Canadian groups will show boaters across the Great Lakes Basin how to properly inspect and clean boats, trailers and other equipment to prevent the spread of AIS, which are recognized as one of the most significant threats to the ecological and economic health of the Great Lakes Basin. Volunteers, along with paid inspectors, are partnering with state and provincial agencies at boat launches to educate boaters on how to prevent the spread of AIS, ways to identify AIS and report an AIS discovery, and local AIS regulations.
“Partnering directly with anglers, boaters, and other community members across the Basin is critical to preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes,” said Sharon M. Jackson, chair of the Great Lakes Commission and deputy general counsel for Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. “The more people we reach, the more people become part of the solution to protecting our lakes and rivers.”
Last year’s inaugural Great Lakes AIS Landing Blitz reached 115,000 people at 1,400 public and private boat landings across the region. This year, agencies leading the effort are expanding their online presence due to measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“The unusual circumstances created by COVID-19 have driven us to be more creative in how we reach people and expand our impact beyond just the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region,” said Martine Hébert, Québec government Delegate in Chicago and Great Lakes Commissioner. “We are committed to working with our partners and colleagues around the basin in a continued effort to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. We are always happy to participate in delivering a coordinated message – virtually and in person – about the importance of AIS prevention during what remains one of the busiest boating weekends of the year.”
More than 180 non-native aquatic 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. As boaters return to the water this summer, it is imperative that they clean, drain and dry their boat and gear, and for anglers to properly dispose of any unused bait.
For more information on the Great Lakes AIS Landing Blitz, including educational materials, location, and volunteer opportunities, visit www.glc.org/blitz.
The Great Lakes Commission, led by chair Sharon M. Jackson, Deputy General Counsel for Governor Eric J. Holcomb of Indiana, is an interstate compact agency established under the Great Lakes Basin Compact of 1955. The Commission is authorized by 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 Basin and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, industry and nonprofit leaders and agency officials from eight states and two provinces. 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 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.