Isle Royale National park and Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area to give free boat washes

Copper Country

KISMA aquatic invasive prevention information booth. Photo courtesy of Isle Royale NP and KISMA

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – Isle Royale National Park and KISMA will offer free boat washes at marinas and boat launches in Houghton, Baraga and Keweenaw Counties.

The events are funded by the National Park Service and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to encourage boaters, kayakers and jet skiers to clean, drain and dry, watercraft to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, especially zebra mussels, in Lake Superior waters. The boat wash stations are high-pressure, high-temperature systems designed to disinfect watercraft before and after accessing the water. The boat wash opportunities will be in Chassell, L’anse, Baraga and Hancock.

Boat washing station. Photo courtesy of Isle Royale NP and KISMA.

Zebra and quagga mussels are two of the most economically and ecologically damaging aquatic invasive species in the United States. Invasive mussels have led to cascading ecosystem problems, including nuisance algal growth and widespread bird die-offs, in some Great Lakes parks. Invasive mussels have been slow to establish in Lake Superior and surrounding waters due to their remote locations and diluted waters. However, increasing numbers have been detected at Isle Royale in recent years. Zebra mussels at Irle Royale NP could damage rare native mussels, infrastructure, historic shipwrecks and important fish spawning habitats.

The National Park Service aims to prevent invasive mussels from establishing in Lake Superior parks that have had few or no detections to date. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Grand Portage National Monument, Isle Royale NP, Pictured Rocks National lakeshore and Voyageurs NP. Mitigation efforts include:

  • Providing boat cleaning stations in and near parks
  • Conducting intensive early detection efforts
  • Reinforcing invasive species outreach and education efforts
  • Removing invasive mussels from high priority areas like docks, shiprecks, fish spawning habitats, native mussels, etc.

Recent work at Isle Royale NP suggests that invasive mussel removal efforts are feasible and successful in certain contexts. Anyone can help keep waters free of aquatic invaders by reporting any detections and following recommendations of the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers campaign:

  • CLEAN visible plants, animals, and mud from equipment before leaving water,  
  • DRAIN bilges, live wells, motors, etc. before leaving water,  
  • DRY everything for at least five days or wipe with a towel before reuse, and  
  • DISPOSE of unwanted bait and fish parts in the trash. 

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