Outreach Campaigns

 

The Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign is a call to action that empowers recreational users of aquatic resources in the United States and other countries to help stop the spread of harmful aquatic invasive species through outreach and partnerships.

 

You can help by taking the following actions:

  • Understand the threats of aquatic invasive species.

  • Learn to recognize aquatic invasive species and know where to look for them.

  • Clean, Drain and Dry all watercraft, trailer, motors, and gear every time, everywhere.

  • Never release fish, animals, or plants from one waterbody into another.

  • Report new sightings of aquatic invasive species to the appropriate authorities or use the USGS Sighting Report Form.

  • Help inform others about the threat of aquatic invasive species.

  • Encourage your elected officials to support measures that prevent aquatic invasive species.
     

For more information about this initiative, visit http://www.stopaquatichitchhikers.org.

 

*“Clean, drain, dry” is the mantra of modern boating etiquette. It’s also what we should do with all our equipment whenever we travel from one lake, river or stream to another, even if it’s just our wading boots that have gotten wet. Why? Because invasive species are excellent hitchhikers.

The most infamous culprits are zebra and quagga mussels. These small freshwater mussels have a free-swimming young stage (called a veliger) that can be found in open water, as well as the more well-known adults that attach to any more-or-less solid surface. These mussels reproduce at a prodigious rate (up to a million eggs per year per female) and grow on top of each other. In one Michigan power plant, 700,000 zebra mussels were found per square meter. At this density, they cause many problems as they fill pipes and clog screens at dams and water delivery structures. Each mussel can filter around a quart of water a day, so when their numbers skyrocket, they filter out a huge proportion of the algae that forms the base of much of the aquatic food web. The waterbodies they infest may clear up, but only at great cost to native plants and animals.

 

Luckily, these mussels aren’t known to be present in the Northwest — yet. If and when they do arrive, they would likely inflict tens to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage each year on dams, water delivery systems, and fish and wildlife habitat in the Columbia River system and beyond. Because they attach to everything solid, they are easily carried to new waterbodies by boats.

 

Mussels aren’t the only scary thing hitching a ride with unwitting people. The New Zealand mudsnail (photo credit: Portland State University) is another, though it most famously rides on wading boots rather than boat trailers. The snails live on the bottom of streams or lakes, and crawl onto boots as people fish or collect scientific data. The impacts of the mudsnail are not well-studied yet, but they can reproduce very quickly – and, in fact, clone themselves so that only one is needed to start a new population. They can build to densities of more than 500,000 per square meter, and can pass through fish undigested. Mudsnails impact food webs by consuming the algae that would normally be eaten by aquatic insects that feed the fish.

 

Another hitchhiker, one that commonly rides on felt-soled wading boots, is the algae didymo (photo credit: Mark Hoddle). This is a type of algae called a diatom, with a long stalk. It is native to Washington but its populations can occasionally explode in low-nutrient streams, covering the whole streambed. Many states have banned felt-soled wading boots in an attempt to stop its spread.


Eurasian watermilfoil (photo credit: National Park Service) is also commonly spread by boating activities. It has long, flexible stems, and easily grows from fragments that remain damp — and thus viable — while riding between waterbodies. Other invasive aquatic plants also spread easily when seeds or fragments are accidentally carried from waterbody to waterbody. Diseases that harm fish and amphibian species can also be carried in mud or other debris that may cling to boats, trailers, boots and other gear.
 

Stop the spread with “Clean, Drain, Dry"


So, what can we do? Clean your boats, trailers, boots and anything else that gets wet. Check seams and hard-to-reach places. The best location for this is a commercial car wash – high-pressure water will help blast off anything that might be clinging to gear, and the water should drain to a sanitary sewer or septic system. If you cannot get to a car wash, use a brush and clean water to scrub your boat and gear thoroughly. Do this scrubbing and cleaning before leaving the waterbody, or do it where the wash water draining off your gear will not contaminate another creek or lake. If you have been boating in a part of the country with zebra or quagga mussels, you must have your watercraft cleaned with hot water to make sure that all mussels are not only off, but dead.

 

Once you have cleaned everything, make sure to drain all water from any nook or cranny that may store it. Leave drain plugs out of boats so the bilges can dry. Lastly, dry all gear thoroughly. During rainy weather, be sure to store gear so that all parts dry completely between uses.

 

Do your part to stop invasive species from hitchhiking their way into lakes and other waterbodies. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the law!

 

For the health of your pet and the safety of our native wildlife, it's never OK to release pets to the wild. Most pets released to the wild do not survive, and many suffer before they die. Pets are usually unable to find food or shelter in the wild and they are often an easy meal for another creature. If it does manage to survive, your pet becomes an invasive species that native wildlife may not have the defenses to compete against. Invasive species cause harm to the environment and the economy.

If you have a pet you find you can no longer care for, you need to find it a new home – and never, ever, release your pet to the wild. If you are not able to place your pet with another caring owner, your best course is to contact an animal shelter, agency or even a pet store near you. The knowledgeable personnel in these places can help you find the right place for your pet. Use the resources on this website to locate the help you need!

For more information, visit http://www.dontletitloose.com.

Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks

 

For more information, visit www.playcleango.org.

  • Arrive with clean gear

  • Burn local or certified firewood

  • Use local or weed-free hay

  • Stay on the trails

  • Before leaving, remove mud and seeds

 
Campers

 

Whether you use a tent, RV, or nothing but the clear blue sky, it's important to not accidently move invasive species from place to place, particularly in firewood. Here are a few steps you can take to help prevent the spread of invasive species.

 

1. Come clean

Before leaving home, take a little time to inspect and remove dirt, plants, and bugs from clothing, boots, gear, pets, and vehicles.

 

2. Use only local or certified firewood

Before camping, check for any firewood restrictions at your intended campsite. Shop ahead of time to locate a source of firewood near your campsite. Burn all of the wood you bring or leave it with the campsite host.

 

3. Use weed-free or certified hay

Use weed-free hay when horseback riding or using hay for other purposes. When using hay for other purposes and weed-free hay is not available, use straw because it is less likely to carry weed seeds.

 

4. Stay on designated trails

Stay on the designated trail when walking, hiking, biking, or riding your horse or OHV.

 

5. Leave clean

Before leaving your campsite, inspect your belongings and remove any dirt, plants, or bugs. Invasive plant seeds can be stuck on you or your belongings. Likewise, pests that attack trees can hide in firewood that you bring home. Weed seeds in infested hay can be blown offsite as you move down the road or left behind in animal waste.

 

Trail Users

 

Whether walking, hiking, running, biking, or riding your horse or OHV, it's important to make sure you don't accidently move invasive species from place to place. Here are a few steps you can take to help prevent the spread of invasive species.

 

1. Come clean

Before leaving home, take a little time to inspect and remove dirt, plants, and bugs from clothing, boots, gear, pets, and vehicles.

 

2. Use weed-free or certified hay

When horseback riding, use weed-free or certified hay. When using hay for other purposes and weed-free hay is not available, use straw because it is less likely to carry weed seeds.

 

3. Stay on designated trails

Stay on the designated trail when walking, hiking, running, biking, or riding your horse or OHV.

 

4. Leave clean

Before leaving, inspect your belongings and remove any dirt, plants, or bugs. Invasive plant seeds can be stuck on you, your pets, or equipment. Likewise, pests that attack trees can hide in firewood that you bring home. Weed seeds in infested hay can be blown offsite as you move down the road or left behind in animal waste.

 

Homeowners

 

Not all nonnative plants are bad. But some really attractive plants can escape into natural areas and become harmful invaders. By following these few steps you can help manage your garden and help preserve neighboring wildlands.

 

1. Be informed

Learn about the invasive species that are a problem in your area. If you see them for sale at your local nursery, let them know about your concerns.

 

Learn about and use native plants that grow well in your area. Some local nurseries specialize in native plants.

 

2. Use plants known to be good neighbors

Avoid nonnative plants that sel--seed because they may move outside your garden.

 

3. Know your plant source

Inquire about the source of the plants you buy. Plants grown in your region are likely to fare better. Make sure they are labeled properly. Young woody plants may be difficult to identify until they begin to flower. And make sure the potted plants you buy are free of any weeds.

 

4. Use certified or "weed-free" material

Inquire about the source of any material you bring into your yard, including soil, mulch, gravel, or decorative rock. Where available, buy certified weed-free material.

 

Field Workers

 

By following these simple steps, you can help protect your business investments, enhance work relationships, and protect the environment.

 

1. Come clean

Before leaving the shop, take a little time to inspect your gear and remove dirt, plants, and seeds from clothing, boots, gear, and vehicles.

 

2. Use weed-free materials

When bringing soil, gravel, or other material onto a work site, check your sources to make sure they are weed free. Where the only available sources are known to be infested with invasive plants, scrape off the top 6 inches of material and set aside. Then use the newly exposed material for the project at hand.

 

3. Burn or use wood waste

Pallets, packing material, and containers made from untreated wood can harbor plant pests. Plan ahead to either burn or utilize wood waste. One option is chipping the wood and selling it as biofuel.

4. Stay in designated areas

Check with the project manager to identify designated areas for parking and areas for storing supplies and equipment.  Then stay within those designated areas.

 

5. Start at the cleanest site

When mowing, grading, or doing other work that involves moving from site to site, plan your work so that you start at the least infested site and finish at the most infested site. Between sites, use a brush or hand tool to remove accumulations of mud and plant debris.

 

6. Leave clean

Before heading back to the shop, inspect your vehicle and gear. When available, use a power washer or air compressor to remove any dirt, plants, seeds, or bugs. When these are not available, use a brush or other hand tool to knock off dirt clods and plant debris.

 

© 2019 Aquatic Invasive Species Network. Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. All rights reserved.