Three simple steps for boaters to save the Great Lakes

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Officials and volunteers are raising awareness about aquatic invasive species at events in eight states, including Michigan, and two Canadian provinces.

In the coming days, volunteers at nearly 30 sites across the state will be at Landing Blitz events. They are reminding watercraft owners to clean, drain and dry watercraft and trailers to prevent the spread of invasive species.

>>Online: Find a Landing Blitz event near you or be a volunteer

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is partnering with the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to sponsor the education and outreach events, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed June 28 through July 5 Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week.

“Millions of dollars are spent each year in Michigan to control the impacts of aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels, sea lamprey and Eurasian watermilfoil,” Kevin Walters, aquatic biologist at EGLE, said. “It only takes a few minutes to do a walk-around of your watercraft and trailer and drain water to make sure everything is clear of material that doesn’t belong.”

CLEAN: Make sure watercraft and trailers are free of all aquatic organisms and plants before transporting or launching.

DRAIN: Remove drain plugs and drain all water from bilges, ballast tanks and live wells before moving watercraft.

DRY: Wipe down your watercraft with a towel and keep everything dry for at least five days.

Each state and province has laws and regulations related to invasive species. Boaters in Michigan who do not clean boats and trailers or drain water can be fined up to $100.

DISPOSE: If you are fishing, only release fish into the same body of water where they were caught to avoid the spread of invasive species and fish diseases. Additionally, avoid releasing unused bait into the water.

Volunteers in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Québec, and Ontario are hoping to educate everyone who uses the state’s waterways about their responsibilities to prevent invasive species.