Mi Paddle Steward Training Helping Protect Lakes from Invasive Species

Paddle Antrim and Charlevoix, Antrim, Kalkaska, and Emmet counties Cooperative Invasive Species Management area held a Mi Paddle Steward Training on Walloon Lake on Friday.

“I want to make sure that these lakes are crystal clean and pristine for my kids and future generations,” said Deana Jerdee Paddle Antrim, Executive Director.

The focus is on teaching kayakers, paddleboarders and canoers how to identify invasive species.

“Paddlers go slow. They can see things. They’re often curious about what’s going on below the water,” said Lindsey Bona-Eggman, Program Coordinator at CAKE CISMA.

One of the common invasive species in many lakes is Eurasian watermilfoil.

“It can spread easily by fragments, so it’ll choke out the native aquatic plants that are there and disturb fish and wildlife habitat in the water,” said Bona-Eggman. “It also makes it challenging to get your boats in the water; for swimming, you can get tangled in it and actually can be pretty dangerous for human swimmers.”

Paddlers also learned how to report it to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.

“We rely on education, outreach considerably, and training others to be essentially the first identifiers of the invasive species,” explained Bona-Eggman. “It helps us be eyes on the ground and get that information quickly so we can potentially do early interventions.”

The best way to prevent the spread of invasive species is to clean, drain and dry your gear. The Walloon Lake Association and Conservancy recently installed two high-tech boat cleaners in June.

“The sprayer is high-pressure air. We have a vacuum for live wells for fishermen. They can suck all the extra water out to get rid of the organisms in the live well. There’s a plug wrench, So if you happen to forget your wrench or need to take your plug out before you leave, you can use that,” said Connor Dennis, Director of Conservation Programs at Walloon Lake Association and Conservancy.