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Aquatic Invasive Species Found at a Lake Near You

Zebra mussels are an aquatic invasives species that has been problematic in the Great Lakes region since the 1990's.  (Photo from WI IDNR)

Zebra mussels are an aquatic invasives species that has been problematic in the Great Lakes region since the 1990's. (Photo from WI IDNR)

Asian carp. Zebra and quagga mussels. Brazilian elodea and Eurasian watermilfoil. Their names read like a list of recent headlines. All of these aquatic animals and plants are invasive to Illinois and the United States. Some were brought here accidentally and others intentionally. All have had an impact on the ecology and economy of Illinois. Perhaps some of these species would not have been introduced if people had been more aware of invasive species. What we are certain about is that prevention is the most effective means of avoiding future invasions and their impacts.

Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) and raising public awareness about their existence is the goal of Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Clean Boats Crew (http://niipp.net/?page_id=1176), a regional grassroots effort to protect and preserve the many lakes and ponds in northeastern Illinois. Volunteers at boat launches and marinas talk with boaters, anglers, and recreational water users about aquatic invasive species and provide tips for how to maintain equipment to avoid spreading AIS from lake to lake. For example, zebra and quagga mussel pre-adults can be transported in water found in bait buckets, kayaks, canoes, and boat motors. And pieces of Brazilian elodea and Eurasian watermilfoil can get caught in boat trailers and fishing tackle and be moved to new locations.

In an effort to protect regional lakes and ponds from unintentional transport of invasive animals and plants, Clean Boats Crew (CBC) volunteers talked with more than 800 people in Lake County during program’s first season (2011). This coming boating season, with the help of Illinois Department of Natural Resources funding, CBC will expand to cover Lake and Cook Counties. If you are out and about in the waters of northeastern Illinois next summer look for our volunteers! They have a wealth of information to share and would love to talk with you.

If you would like to see a CBC program set up in your county or are interested in becoming a volunteer please contact Cathy McGlynn at 847-242-6423/cathy.mcglynn@niipp.net or Sarah Zack at 847-242-6440/szack@illinois.edu.

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