Local park to host invasive species event

Alex Doty • Jun 30, 2018 at 12:00 AM

ROBINSON TWP. — Boating season is underway, and officials from the state and Ottawa County are making sure boaters are educated about their role in protecting waters from aquatic invasive species.

Michigan’s Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz will be hosted locally by Ottawa County Parks and the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds at Riverside Park in Robinson Township on Monday and Tuesday, July 2-3, from 1-3 p.m. each day.

The Landing Blitz is sponsored by the state departments of environmental quality, natural resources, and agriculture and rural development, in partnership with local organizations, as part of Michigan’s annual Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week.

“These public boat launches are a source for a lot of invasive species,” said Melanie Manion, the natural resources management supervisor for the county parks system. “The upside is, when we get these outreach events, we can connect with a lot of people.”

The program is designed as a collaborative outreach campaign to raise awareness about preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species through recreational boating and related activities. During the event, boaters will learn about preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species from the movement of watercraft and equipment between water bodies at both public and private boating access sites throughout the state.

“We talk about how we’ve become numb to invasive species because we talk about it so often,” Manion said. “(These events) keep it fresh in people’s mind.”

Because it’s so easy to tune out what could happen if invasive plants and aquatic life enter a watershed, Manion said it’s important to keep people aware of the threats that exist, as well as the progress that’s been made in fighting and preventing the spread of invasive species thus far.

“There are always new invasive species we can stop,” she said, noting that early detection and prevention measures are key. “The new invasives like the New Zealand mud snail can be prevented.”

At next week’s event, you can also expect to learn more about boat washing and equipment decontamination procedures, the Clean Boats Clean Waters program, reporting protocols for watch list species and others, awareness of specific regulations, and proper disposal of bait.

For more information about aquatic invasive species in Michigan, visit: www.michigan.gov/InvasiveSpecies.

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