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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to begin the certification process.