Wisconsin joins Great Lakes-wide “AIS Landing Blitz” campaign with other states and two Canadian provinces

Partners at hundreds of water access sites throughout the Great Lakes region are set to participate in an “AIS Landing Blitz” from June 28 to July 7 to inform boaters and others of the risks of introducing and spreading aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Removing vegetation attached to boats is one part of a thorough inspection and helps prevent the spread of AIS. (Photo: Wisconsin Sea Grant)

Said Tim Campbell, aquatic invasive species outreach specialist for Wisconsin Sea Grant, “We know that the Fourth of July holiday weekend is one of the busiest boating times of the year, and we get both visitors to Wisconsin and infrequent boaters who enjoy our waters but are less likely to have received our AIS message. This is a great time to reach them to make sure they know to ‘Inspect, Remove, Drain and Never Move’ live fish, while also taking time to thank the boaters who are already on board with the ‘Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers’ guidance.”

Volunteers, along with paid inspectors, will work with state and Canadian provincial agencies at boat launches throughout the Great Lakes to educate visitors on procedures used to prevent the spread of AIS, ways to identify AIS, protocols for reporting an AIS discovery, and local AIS laws and regulations.

While, in previous years, similar events have been hosted by individual states and provinces, this is the first time that all of the Great Lakes states, along with the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, are involved and coordinating efforts to maximize impact.

“I’m excited that this is the first time that these valuable educational events will be held simultaneously across the entire Great Lakes region,” said Campbell. “It’s a chance to deliver a coordinated, regional message about the importance of AIS prevention.”

Working with local communities and volunteers will be key to the success of the event, says Molly Bodde, who focuses on AIS outreach activities in southeast Wisconsin for Wisconsin Sea Grant. She is based at the Kenosha County Center in Bristol.

“Boaters will have the opportunity to engage directly with volunteers in their community during the Blitz,” Bodde said. “Seeing community members taking time out of their day reinforces that it takes all of our efforts to help protect our lakes and rivers, including the Great Lakes, from the unwanted impacts of invasive species.”

For more information on the AIS Landing Blitz, including educational materials, locations and volunteer opportunities, visit www.glc.org/blitz