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It’s a conservation legacy in the fight to stop AIS PDF Print E-mail

The fight to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) is being waged on many fronts these days, but the most visible work can be seen at dozens of boat landings where inspectors in the Clean Boats Clean Waters campaign are on the front lines to keep exotic weeds out of uninfected lakes.


The latest recap from the 2013 boating season documents the work that was done at dozens of boat landings in Vilas and Oneida counties, where inspectors spent 12,732 hours and inspected 20,532 boats — totaling 20% of the statewide effort.


While the efforts of town committees and lake associations continues to be aggressive, some things have changed. For the first time, thanks to revisions in the grant programs, there were far more paid hours than volunteer hours. In Vilas, the paid hours totaled 7,754 — 82% of the total inspection effort.


We want to continue to praise the volunteers who put in 1,380 hours for the other 18% of the effort, for they are true conservationists who care deeply about protecting their lakes from invasive species. But we also realize, as Vilas County Invasive Species Coordinator Ted Ritter has said for years, that the all-volunteer program was not a sustainable model.


The Clean Boats Clean Waters program is more than a direct way to keep potential invasives out of a lake. It is a public awareness and education campaign that reminds every boat owner contacted about the importance of prevention. The questions asked by inspectors about what lakes the boaters launched in lately forces them to think about it.


It’s hard to write about the battle to stop the spread of AIS without reminding our readers of Vilas County’s conservation legacy in this area — the first county to employ a full-time AIS?coordinator. Vilas was the first to push the Department of Natural Resources to make AIS an agency priority. Vilas also created a successful model for developing partnerships between property owners, lake associations and municipalities — one that has been duplicated in counties across Wisconsin.


Lest anyone forget, it was the work of former State Rep. Dan Meyer (R-Eagle River) on the Joint Finance Committee that led to shifting Boating Account and Stewardship Funds to create a funding mechanism for AIS prevention and control projects, totaling some $3.5 million annually.


That funding mechanism is still the heart of the state’s AIS program today, and prevention grants have been expanded to allow groups to apply for up to $4,000 in funding per boat landing for the Clean Boats Clean Waters inspection program. It allows for the management of existing infestations, which is key to preventing the spread of those invasives.


Despite all that effort, we continue to learn of new lakes every year where Eurasian water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed and other exotics are showing up. There are only 36 participating Vilas County boat landings in the Clean Boats Clean Waters program, and there should be more.


We want to thank all of the volunteers who pour their time and their hearts into AIS prevention and management efforts, from the lake associations to the individuals who survey vegetation or coordinate inspectors.

Behind the editorial ‘we’


Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 10:58 AM

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