This is the first of many signs to be posted at Arrow Lakes boat launch creating awareness in Stop the Spread of Invasive Species. From left to right:  Hans Dummerauf (ALESS)

Draining the lifeblood from aquatic invaders

ALESS has purchased signage to be posted at boat launch sites along the Arrows encouraging boaters to “Clean, Dry, Drain.”

Now that the invaders have been identified and better understood, is there reason to be concerned that the Arrow waters are being threatened and encroached upon from three sides?

Apparently so, according to our power companies, forestry and government officials, CBT, non-profit organizations headed by B.C. and Central Kootenay’s Invasive Plant Committees (CKIPC), as well as  local Stewardships and community interest groups from Golden, Lake Windermere, Slocan, and here at home. Efforts to promote the ‘Stop the Spread’ campaign are being aimed at the boating, floating and fishing public by way of  raising awareness, which is being accomplished as you read this. With funding provided by our Regional Director Paul Peterson, ALESS has purchased signage to be posted at all boat launch sites along the Arrows encouraging boaters from other waters to “Clean, Dry, Drain” before launching into this lake.

Ya ya, I know: more signs that nobody reads so why bother. Why even try to stop the spread in the first place? As Kevin O’Leary would say, the answer is money.  It’s cheaper to stop the spread rather than having to cope with an infestation not readily eradicated, and besides, what kind of legacy would be left for future generations if left unchecked?  According to Idaho’s Department of Agriculture Biologist Thomas Woolf, speaker at the CKIPC in Castlegar last month, the current annual state budget to stop the spread from entering his state is $9 million.  However, he added, should the mussels get a hold, the economic impact would be ten fold.

Some launch locations are well suited to aid boaters to clean, drain, dry. Boat wash stations can be easily provided thanks to close proximity of running water and a gravel drainage area. So far, the communities of  New Denver, Silverton and Slocan have agreed to provide such stations leaving the Arrow sites to follow suite with Burton’s Historical Park launch possibly being the first contender.

Ya ya, I know: who’s gonna come from Lake Somewhere to wash his boat clean, drain it and dry it before launching in Lake Elsewhere?  Good point! That’s why the  Invasive Species Council of BC is delivering a two year “take action” program designed to help stop the introduction and spread of invasive aquatic species into B.C.’s lakes and rivers. Sixteen liaison workers throughout B.C. will be on the job, toiling to change boater behaviour. Their duties include spending time with boater and anglers, and inspecting and cleaning boats and trailers before moving on to another body of water. What a terrific job, giving local mentors.

One last note on those hip waders and Dydimo: Before leaving a body of water CHECK all gear, remove visible algae and dispose as trash away from water source. CLEAN all equipment with a two to five per cent bleach solution and allow equipment to stay in solution for three minutes minimum and 20 minutes for soft items. DRY outdoors for 48 hours (in sunshine if possible) and consider replacing felt-soled waders.

To show the serious nature of  the mussel spread in particular,  Mr. Woolf further commented that Idaho inspectors now have the authority to order any contaminated boat be taken to the nearest decontamination station to be cleaned and held for 30 days. This 30 day drying period is crucial to eliminating the critters. Imagine having your boat taken from you for 30 days. Last December a North Dakota man was charged in Minnesota for transferring a zebra mussel-infested boat lift to a non-infested lake in Minnesota. The man allegedly qualified for prosecution under their new invasive species law.

Yes, aquatic invaders are threatening the Arrow Lakes so pass on the words “help stop the spread,” so we and future generations may continue to enjoy our waters and keep ecosystems intact.