Apply today for a Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters grant

New funding is available for aquatic invasive species outreach to boaters.

A pond with moss on top
Protect inland lakes from aquatic invasive species like European watermilfoil (pictured here) by applying for a Clean Boats, Clean Waters grant. | Photo by Erick Elgin.

Passionate organizations dedicated to protecting Michigan’s waters from aquatic invasive species can now apply for funding through the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program. This new grant program is for organizations interested in conducting outreach and education about aquatic invasive species to boaters. Eligible applicants include lake associations, watershed groups, local or tribal units of government, and non-profits.

Grants can be used for a variety of activities including signage, invasive species removal supplies such as plant removal tools, sponges and towels, and staff time to perform watercraft inspections and demonstrations of boat cleaning techniques. Funding requests can range from $1,000 to $3,000 and do not require local match or cost sharing. Up to $20,000 is available in 2021 through this new initiative. This opportunity is noncompetitive and complete applications will be funded in the order that they are received. Grant applications are currently being accepted. The application deadline is Feb. 19, 2021. Organizations qualified for Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program (MISGP) funds (e.g., Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas) are highly encouraged to pursue MISGP funds to perform boater outreach activities, rather than the Clean Boats, Clean Waters grants.

Reinvented Clean Boats, Clean Waters Program

Since 2006, the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program has been educating Michigan boaters about aquatic invasive species with trained volunteer boat inspectors. New funding from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has enabled Clean Boats, Clean Waters to grow into a comprehensive aquatic invasive species boater outreach program. The program’s mission remains the same: to prevent new aquatic invasive species introductions and limit their dispersal from water recreation activities through outreach and engagement. The reinvented Clean Boats, Clean Waters program promotes understanding of boat cleaning practices and regulations through the distribution of educational materials, an online resource library, boat washing demonstrations, grants and partnerships.

In addition to providing grants, the reinvented Clean Boats, Clean Waters program is combining forces with the Michigan State University Mobile Boat Wash outreach program. Since 2015, the Mobile Boat Wash has provided education to boaters about aquatic invasive species in partnership with communities and local organizations alongside the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The program uses high-pressure washing units with heated water to remove aquatic invasive species from boats and trailers at boat launches. A containment mat prevents wash water from entering waterways.

The program provides a trailer-mounted washing unit, educational materials on aquatic invasive species and two staff who operate the unit and talk with boaters for free. Local organizations assist mobile boat washing events by coordinating local logistics, promoting the event and speaking with boaters at launch sites. Over 14,000 boaters have interacted with Mobile Boat Wash staff at events across the state. Bringing the Mobile Boat Wash program under the umbrella of Clean Boats, Clean Waters increases the ability for both outreach initiatives to reach new audiences and provides a one-stop shop for resources and activities related to aquatic invasive species prevention for boaters and anglers in Michigan.

Michigan State University Extension is leading the effort to refresh and implement the new Clean Boats, Clean Waters program in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The reinvented Clean Boats, Clean Waters program builds upon existing partnerships with statewide and local partners including the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association, Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas and lake associations and is actively seeking new opportunities and partnerships to share the clean, drain, dry message.

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