Benzie Conservation Receives $126,700 to Educate Boaters on Invasive Species
The state recently awarded $3.6 million to 32 organizations across the state to help fight invasive species, and eight of those organizations are right here in Northern Michigan.
The Benzie Conservation District is one of them. They received $126,700 to help educate and provide resources on invasive species.
“It’s rapid, it’s more rapid than our environment can adapt too,” says Jane Perrino, an aquatic invasive species coordinator at Benzie Conservation District.
Perrino says the conservation met with boaters from 18 different states throughout last year, who potentially brought along critters that are dangerous to Michigan’s native species.
“Human activity has definitely accelerated the spreads and the presence of nuisance species here, but there are a lot of things we can all do to improve that situation,” Perrino says.
That’s why the conservation district is educating boaters on how to prevent the spread of dangerous invaders.
Executive Director Tad Peacock says the invasive species will “Change the whole ecosystem, of our rivers and our lakes and what that means is the plant life will be different, the fish life will be different, and that can affect the fisheries.”
The 2019 Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program will help the conservation continue that mission; reminding people to clean, drain and dry their boats before moving to another water-way.
Peacock says, “Show them what to do with their boats and just make them aware that they can be transporting aquatic invasive species.”
The conservation district is creating resources like informational flyers for adults and fun stickers for kids.
Perrino says, “It reminds them to encourage mom and dad next time they’re out to check their boat for invasive species.”
A mission that the conservation district says is more than just protecting the environment, its saving an industry many welcomed visitors love.
“There are very simple things we can do to make a difference in this ongoing challenge,” Perrino says.
The grant awarded to the Benzie Conservation District will also go towards projects in Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Manistee counties.