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May 19, 2019

Jacob friede/lakeland times

Stephanie Boismenue, Oneida County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) coordinator, demonstrates how to inspect a boat propeller for AIS as a part of a free Clean Boats Clean Water workshop held at the Crescent Town Hall last Friday.
Jacob friede/lakeland times

Stephanie Boismenue, Oneida County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) coordinator, demonstrates how to inspect a boat propeller for AIS as a part of a free Clean Boats Clean Water workshop held at the Crescent Town Hall last Friday.
5/4/2019 7:30:00 AM
Clean Boats Clean Water workshop held
Jacob Friede
Of The Lakeland Times

The fishing season opens tomorrow and it will bring the year's first wave of boat action to the lakes of the Northwoods. With anglers on the move there is also the threat that aquatic invasive species (AIS) will be as well. So, as the ice melts and reveals the crisp blue waters of spring, there's no better time to remind all boaters to keep their craft invasive-free.

And just in case the pristine lakes themselves can't promote their own protection, there will be teams of people, at landings all over the North, offering a friendly reminder.

Clean Boats Clean Waters is a program dedicated to AIS education, prevention, and containment. At the core of the program are trained boat inspectors who patrol launches to ensure proper AIS inspection and decontamination are performed on all watercraft using a particular lake.

Inspectors include volunteer and paid citizens, lake organization members, civic group members, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff.

Last Friday, the Oneida County Land and Water Conservation Department hosted a free Clean Boats, Clean Waters Watercraft Inspection and AIS Identification workshop at the Crescent Town Hall as a refresher for seasoned inspectors and as training for those new to the program.

The workshop was comprehensive and thorough. By the end of it, someone who had never heard of aquatic invasive species would not only understand what they are, where they come from, and what they do to natural habitat, but would also know how to identify specific types common to the area. They would also know how to conduct a proper boat inspection and what the protocol is for boatside AIS education. Additionally, they would be trained in the basics of inspection supplies as well as how to report violations and record collected data.

Stephanie Boismenue, the Oneida County AIS coordinator, led off the workshop and got right to the heart of the problem. She explained aquatic invasive species are non-native to the particular habitats they invade and therefore they don't have natural predators and parasites to keep their numbers in check. AIS are virtually left to eat and reproduce as much as they want, and by doing so and taking up all available resources, they squeeze out native organisms. Natives just can't compete.

AIS arrived in Midwestern lakes, primarily, through the Great Lakes. Many invasive species made their way from Europe in the ballasts of ocean tankers via the St. Lawrence seaway.

Boismenue said the same way they got here initially, is how they travel now, by hitchhiking. On everything. Under boats, in live wells, on propellers, and bumpers. On SCUBA gear, in nets, on anchors and fishing lures, and on rafts, kayaks, jet skis, and inner tubes. Basically anything that comes into contact with the water has potential to hook up with AIS.

The culprits come in all shapes and colors, from the weedy Eurasian water milfoil and curly leaf pondweed to the hard-shelled zebra mussels and Chinese mystery snails. Other invaders include phragmites, yellow iris, purple loosestrife, rusty crayfish, and spiny water fleas.

Sandy Wickman, a water resources management specialist with the DNR and UW-Extension, gave workshop participants a hands-on tour of many AIS samples. She had specimens on hand for close examination, as well as some non-invasive native species so Clean Boats Clean Waters (CBCW) inspectors could note the difference between the two.

Once inspectors were trained on the problem of AIS and how to identify it, they were given advice on what to do if they did.

Ideally the boat operator will inspect and decontaminate their own craft and there will be no need for a CBCW inspector to intervene. But if an inspector notices AIS attached to a craft and sees the boat operator is taking no measure to remove it, then they are advised to politely ask to inspect the watercraft thoroughly and even decontaminate the boat themselves. Boismenue stressed that educating boat operators, in a kind and friendly manner, about the threats AIS pose to a lake is often the best means to cooperation.

In a worst case scenario, an all out refusal by a boat operator to cooperate, an inspector should take down the license plate number of the transporting vehicle and report it to the DNR.

And the fines are hefty. According to Dave Walz, WDNR conservation warden supervisor, who was on hand to offer a law enforcement perspective, the fine for launching a vehicle with AIS attached is $295. The fine for transporting AIS on public roads is $232, and a failure to drain water is a $243 ticket.

Walz advised if inspectors notice a public safety hazard, like an intoxicated boater, a call to the sheriffs department is warranted. If it is an AIS or fish and game related offense, CBCW inspectors should report it to the DNR first. He stressed that inspectors should trust their own comfort level if confrontations arise and in any problematic situation they should call a warden.

Aquatic invasive species are a force to be reckoned with, but so is a room full of AIS educated, well informed citizens like the ones who completed the CBCW workshop. Their action this year will bolster an over-all state effort that saw 143,148 boats inspected and 299,208 people contacted by CBCW inspectors in 2018. So it's clear that though AIS exists in the multitudes, they're not the only ones with numbers on their side.

Other workshops

There are three more Clean Boats Clean Waters and AIS Identification workshops scheduled in the next few weeks. They will be held:

From 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Lake Nokomis Town Hall.

From 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at the Woodruff Town Hall.

From 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, at the Reiter Center in Three Lakes.

For more information about Clean Boats Clean Waters visit the Wisconsin DNR website at and keyword search "Clean Boats Clean Waters," or visit the UW-Extension page at or the Oneida County page at

Jacob Friede may be reached at or

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