Our lakes may still be covered in ice, but volunteer lake monitors are gearing up for a season of keeping invasive species at bay.
Dozens of volunteers gathered this week in Rhinelander for a refresher on rules and protocols. Oneida County Aquatic Invasives Coordinator Michele Sadauskas says they’re a fraction of those working in Oneida County alone.
“That’s actually just a minute portion of who’s out there. The people here tonight are going to take that information back to their teams and their crews…and so we’re in the hundreds of volunteers that are out there.”
Volunteers are charged with reminding boaters about regulations like boat washing and emptying livewells. The idea is to have a conversation rather than a confrontation. Pelican Lake volunteer Lucy Nelson says that in the nearly ten years that she’s been a monitor, she’s seen a real change in people’s understanding of the issue.
“The more educated people are, it’s wonderful. No one is nasty, they thank you for doing this. And they know, they’ve got their plastic bags to put the fish in, they have their ice that they need to transport it cause they can’t transport it with the water.”
Bill Akan helps monitor Squash Lake and Lake Julia. He agrees that on the ground monitors have helped educate the public.
“You know most boaters that I see when I go to a landing are familiar with the laws, and have done a really good job cleaning up their boats, before entering the water and afterwards. So it’s having an impact, definitely.”
Efforts like these haven’t been enough to completely stop the influx of invasives into the Northwoods, but volunteers say their presence is an important line of defense. For WXPR News, I’m Natalie Jablonski.