The Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz is back

Organizations across the Great Lakes have teamed up to remind boaters and anglers to clean, drain, and dry their equipment.

A man power-washing the back of his boat
The Mobile Boat Wash is a popular Michigan State University outreach program aimed at educating boaters about aquatic invasive species and proper boat cleaning techniques. Photo credit: Rebecca Williams.

Aquatic invasive species can move between bodies of water simply by hitching a ride on a boat propeller or clinging to a trailer. However, preventing their spread is as easy as cleaning, draining, and drying boats and equipment.

First, clean off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud. Next, drain motor, bilge, livewell, and any other areas that are holding water and remove drain plugs. And lastly, dry everything for at least five days or wipe it with a towel before reusing. Following these simple steps every time a boat leaves the water significantly decreases the spread of aquatic invasive species and some of these steps are required by law. This year’s Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz will encourage boaters across our region to clean, drain, and dry.

A majority of aquatic invasive species including zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, and European frogbit hitched rides on boating and fishing equipment and now have established populations throughout Michigan’s inland lakes. These organisms reproduce and spread quickly, degrade habitat, and outcompete our native species for food and space. Given Michigan is home to over 800,000 registered boats and 11,000 inland lakes, it is no surprise that conservation organizations spend a significant amount of time and money reminding boaters and anglers to clean, drain, and dry their equipment.

To raise awareness about preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species across the Great Lakes region, hundreds of organizations are offering educational opportunities and watercraft inspections as part of the 2020 Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz. Educational Landing Blitz events coincide with Gov. Whitmer’s proclamation of Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week and will take place June 28- July 5, 2020, emphasizing the clean, drain, and dry message and the importance of placing unwanted bait in the trash. To find an educational event near you check out the Landing Blitz website.

Michigan State University Extension has been teaming up with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and Department of Natural Resources for the last seven years to host Landing Blitz educational events over the Fourth of July holiday. To protect the health and safety of boaters and our staff, the Mobile Boat Wash program will not be active during the 2020 boating season to wash watercraft; however, Michigan State University Extension continues to support the Landing Blitz mission and will be sharing safe boating tips on social media via the Clean Boats, Clean Waters and Mobile Boat Wash Facebook pages all boating season long.

In 2019, over 1,400 boat launches held educational events during the Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz, many with accompanying boat wash demonstrations and inspections. Michigan State University Extension supported the event by providing trained Clean Boats, Clean Waters volunteers and the Mobile Boat Wash at boat launches across the state. If you are interested in learning more about aquatic invasive species, how to organize a watercraft inspection program, and best practices for communicating with boaters and anglers, sign up to be a Clean Boats, Clean Waters volunteer. Many Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas also host Clean Boats, Clean Waters volunteer trainings and educational events at boat launches.

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