Watch for invasives when you’re out boating this summer – you can be part of the solution!
Invasive plants are rapidly filling ditches, taking over fields and cluttering our roadsides, but did you know they also impact our wetlands, fresh-water lakes, and beaches? As we enjoy some much-anticipated summer heat and seek recreational activities on the water, keep in mind that if you’re not part of the solution to the spread of invasive plants, you may be part of the problem.
Invasives are spread between water bodies in BC in a simple way – they attach to your boat, your trailer, and your recreational gear. So what does a little green slimy fragment do to the next lake or river? It only takes just one sample of an invasive plant to start a large outbreak in a new location.
Prevention is key! So what can you do?
To stop aquatic hitchhikers, please CLEAN-DRAIN-DRY your boat in between every body of water, every time. Look for aquatic vegetation, mud, and debris:
- For motorized boats, look closely at the hitch, rollers, motor, propeller, axle, and bilge.
- For non-motorized boats, look along the paddles and the hull. Remove and appropriately dispose of any plants that you find before entering the water. Your motor, wet well and bilge should be entirely drained on land after leaving the water.
Impacts of aquatic invasive species can be severe, especially to wetlands. Wetlands lose 50-100% of their native biomass due to purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) invasion alone. The displacement of food supply in these areas result in the matching displacement of many animals, such as muskrats, and many birds will not nest in loosestrife infestations (Invasive Plant Strategy for British Columbia).
Other aquatic invasive plants like Eurasian water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) clogs watercourses and lakes, making areas impassable to boaters and swimmers, and threatening native wildlife habitat. Eurasian water-milfoil is tolerant of low water temperatures, allowing it to quickly grows to the surface, forming dense canopies that overtop and shade the surrounding vegetation. A study in the early 1990s on its establishment in Lake George, New York, found that infestations reduced native plants from 5.5 to 2.2 species per square meter, in just two years (US Geological Survey).
You can help!
Start by keeping your boat clean between bodies of water. Even if you don’t know what plants are harmful, this preventative action will be doing the local areas a world of service!
Learn to recognize and report invasives. If you see an aquatic plant that looks out of place, please report it to 1-888-WEEDSBC.