Keep boats clean to avoid carrying invasive species

This summer, make sure everything is ship-shape when it comes to your boat or other equipment used on waters in the Upper Peninsula.

Make sure boats and other watercraft leaving the water are as clean as possible before going elsewhere to potentially prevent invasive aquatic species from hitching a ride.

The effort is part of the Clean Boats Clean Water aquatic invasive species control program that has trained staff and volunteers work to educate the public about the threat these foreign flora and fauna can pose to native plants and animals.

Non-native species introduced into an ecosystem can explode in numbers, according to The Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition.

Michigan has more than 900,000 registered boats that can spread alien species from one body of water to another. Dickinson County already is dealing with the effects of phragmites, an invasive form of a native North American wetland reed grass, and Eurasian water milfoil, both likely transferred from one lake to another by boats.

Boat owners should learn how to visually check and decontaminate boats and equipment for invasive species and know Michigan’s laws and regulations.

Michigan law requires that boaters remove aquatic plants from boats and equipment before launching, drain live wells and bilges of all water before leaving the access site, not dispose of unused bait in the water and not transfer fish to other bodies of water than where originally caught.

It is also recommended that boats should be washed and let dry for five days before moving to a different water body.

Daily News (Iron Mountain)