Clean Boat Crew connected with record number of boaters

September 9th, 2015 by

With the boating season winding down for the year, Clean Boat Crew (CBC) volunteers and site leaders can take a deep breath knowing they engaged a record number of boaters, anglers, and other water recreationists this year to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

The CBC reached 4,431 water-lovers — 25 percent more than last year’s all-time high of 3,519 — at boat ramps and docks in 10 locations in Illinois and Indiana. The crews were out from Memorial Day weekend to August 9.

The program in its fifth year continued to educate about ways to prevent the transfer of AIS from one waterbody to another through simple cleaning techniques outlined in the Be a Hero – TransportZero™ campaign:
  • Remove plants, animals, and mud from all equipment
  • Drain all water from your boat and gear
  • Dry everything thoroughly with a towel

The crews distributed 8,000 pieces of outreach materials not only at busy marinas, but at several summer events: Gary’s Clean Water Days Festival, the Big Bass Bash, Hammond Marina’s Venetian Night, the Geoffrey Morris Memorial Fishing Tournament at North Point Marina, and Harbor Days at North Point Marina.

“The program continues to be well-received by the public, and more and more people recognize the message.  But there’s still a lot of curiosity about it, which leads me to conclude that there’s still work to be done,” said Sarah Zack, an IISG organizer of the program.


2014 best year yet for clean boating programs

October 28th, 2014 by
With the end of Chicago’s boating season right around the corner, we thought this would be a good time look back at this year’s progress making boating and harbor activities more environmentally friendly.

The Illinois Clean Marina Program launched last year with one certified marina, 31st Street Harbor. This year, five new harbors joined the ranks by implementing a series of best management practices, bringing the state total to six in just its first year. Two more, North Point Marina and Diversey Harbor have also pledged to implement these same practices.

Clean boating includes preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). It was a banner year for Clean Boats Crew, an outreach effort that gives boaters, anglers, and others the information they need to stop the spread of AIS. During its four-year tenure, the volunteer program has spread the word about AIS prevention to more than 8,000 recreational water users in Illinois and Indiana, with more than 3,500 people reached this year alone.
The idea behind Clean Boats Crew is simple. Volunteers visit boat ramps and docks during the height of the boating season to talk with boaters, anglers, and other recreational water users about AIS and to demonstrate cleaning techniques that can help stop their spread. This year, site leaders and volunteers were onsite at Chicago’s Burnham and Diversey harbors, as well as Illinois’s Chain O’ Lakes and North Point Marina and Indiana’s East Chicago and Portage marinas.
In Illinois, site leaders and volunteers introduced water users to three simple steps at the heart of the prevention campaign Be a Hero – Transport Zero™:


–Remove plants, animals, and mud from all equipment
–Drain all water from your boat and gear
–Dry everything thoroughly with a towel

With the season over, IISG and the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership, co-organizers of the Clean Boats Crew program, have turned their sights to next year and are looking for others to join the effort. 

Illinois Clean Marina Program celebrates one year and six marinas

June 13th, 2014 by
The Illinois Clean Marina Program celebrated its one year anniversary last month by certifying DuSable Harbor as the newest clean marina—bringing the state total to six.
The harbors earned their clean marina status by implementing a series of best management practices that make marina operations more efficient and environmentally friendly. Practices cover a range of topics—everything from marina construction to vessel maintenance to waste handling. Most are easy and affordable, such as watering plants deeply but infrequently and encouraging boaters to share excess paint instead of storing or disposing of it improperly. Others help marina personnel educate and train boaters on what they can do to protect habitats and improve water quality.  
Two more marinas, North Point Marina and Diversey Harbor, have also pledged to implement these same practices. To do so, they will rely on the Illinois Clean Marina Guidebook developed by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, along with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Chicago Park District (CPD).
In addition to outlining best practices, the guidebook provides important information on laws and permit programs, connects readers with additional resources, and includes clean boating tip sheets that can be distributed to boaters. Illinois DNR also provides training and support as marinas work their way through the certification processes.  
Illinois is one of six states in the Great Lakes region with a volunteer program that empowers boaters and marina personnel to preserve habitats and prevent pollution.  The Illinois program was developed by IDNR, CPD, IISG, and representatives from the marina industry. Funding for the program and guidebook comes from a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant.

Illinois launches Clean Marina Program

May 1st, 2013 by

Today marks the first official day of the Illinois Clean Marina Program, a voluntary plan that gives marina and boatyard personnel the tools they need to keep pollution out of rivers and lakes. And Chicago’s newest and largest marina has already pledged to become the first clean marina in the state. 

To earn clean marina status, 31st Street Harbor will implement a series of best management practices that make marina operations more efficient and environmentally friendly. The practices cover a broad range of topics from marina construction to sewage handling, and the majority of them are easy and affordable. Some of the activities in the program include conducting vessel maintenance without washing debris into water, scheduling construction to ensure that nearby habitats are protected, and other steps that help reduce environmental impacts. 
Marina managers that pledge to join the program will receive training from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to help implement the program’s best management practices. In addition, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, IDNR, and the Chicago Park District are developing a Clean Marina Guidebook with how-to guidance for all program requirements. The guidebook will give important information on laws and permit programs related to marina activities, direct marina personnel to additional resources, and include clean boating tip sheets that can be distributed to boaters. The Illinois Clean Marina Guidebook will be available soon on the program website
Officials at the Park District expect 31st Street Harbor to complete the certification process later this month. Five additional marinas in the Chicago area are expected to join their ranks within the year. Marina managers interested in pledging to be a clean marina can contact IDNR’s Kim Kreiling at 312-814-6260 or to begin the certification process.

IISG heads to the outdoor shows to kick off 2013

January 11th, 2013 by
Sarah Zack and Danielle Hilbrich, members of IISG’s aquatic invasive species outreach team, set up a booth and talked with hundreds of visitors at the Let’s Go Fishing Show in Collinsville, IL January 4-6. They attended the show in order to provide more information to fishermen and boaters about the dangers of aquatic invasive species, and introduce them to some simple practices that can help reduce the spread of invasives.
Many visitors to the IISG booth had experienced Asian carp jumping at their boats while on the water, and were very interested in ways they could protect themselves while fishing and boating in infested waters. In addition, Danielle and Sarah encouraged anyone that catches an Asian carp – accidently or on purpose – to cook it up and eat it. Asian carp have mild-tasting, white, flaky flesh that takes seasoning and marinades very well. Asian carp are a healthy choice too, since they’re low in contaminants and high in omega-3 fatty acids. Many attendees said they were willing to try cooking Asian carp, so Danielle and Sarah shared recipes with them as well as copies of Louisiana Sea Grant’s video on how to fillet Asian carp.
The booth was highly visited throughout the weekend, and Danielle and Sarah had the chance to hand out hundreds of Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!™ stickers and brochures while offering people more information about invasive species. The booth was even featured on a 92.3 WIL, a popular St. Louis country radio station, and radio host Bo Matthews briefly talked with Sarah Zack about AIS prevention steps that people can take to stop the spread of AIS – inspecting for and removing aquatic plants and animals from equipment, draining all water, disposing of live bait in the trash, and drying recreational equipment before visiting another waterbody. Bo Matthews strongly supports IISG’s AIS-prevention message, and even put a Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! sticker on the radio station truck to help spread the word.
The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant AIS outreach team is part of the Illinois Natural History Survey Lake Michigan Biological Station, and is housed at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL.

May is Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month

May 7th, 2012 by
Invasive species, as you probably know, can have devastating effects when they take hold. They can negatively impact, and in some cases permanently alter, entire ecosystems, disrupting industry and tourism, and affecting home and business owners near those areas.
With summer on the way, there’s no better time than now to spread the word about invasive species and how we can stop them. And that is why May is Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month. 
There’s a website with links and information about invasive species in Illinois, as well as a Facebook page for Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month. Educational materials, tips on what you can do to stop invasive species, and a media tool kit are just some of the things available.

Now is the perfect time to get people involved in the work of preventing the damage they can do right here in Illinois.

In addition to the links above, don’t forget to visit our Clean Boats, Clean Waters web page for simple and useful ways that boaters can join in the fight to prevent invasive species from spreading. You can also find information on how to volunteer for our Clean Boats Crew and provide in-person advice and tips at local boat ramps and marina. 

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