Aquatic nuisance species committee releases guidelines to prevent AIS spread

June 18th, 2014 by
IISG’s Pat Charlebois and Sarah Zack were members of a committee on recreational water use, and Pat co-chaired a committee on water garden guidelines, both aimed at preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) through these two pathways. The committees recently completed their report, Voluntary Guidelines to Prevent the Introduction and Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species; Recreational Activities and Water Gardening, which provides guidelines for recreational water users and water gardeners to follow. 
The steps listed include cleaning, draining, and drying all recreational equipment (boats, vests, trailers, etc.) following a day on the water (for recreational water users), and purchasing/planting native plants or properly disposing of unwanted specimens (for water gardeners). 

There are more simple steps outlined in the two documents that can help prevent the spread of invasive species through these two pathways, as well as information about the importance of protecting waterways and native ecosystems. Visit the links above to read the complete reports, and visit our “Be A Hero – Transport Zero” and “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” webpages for additional information. 

*Note: This post originally listed Pat Charlebois as a co-chair of the recreational water users committee and omitted Sarah Zack’s participation. The text has been corrected. 

In the news: Test results show another aquatic invader’s presence in southern Lake Michigan

December 5th, 2013 by
Researchers are reporting that they have found DNA evidence of an invasive fish, Eurasian ruffe, in the southern Lake Michigan waters. 
“The Nature Conservancy said a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame, Central Michigan University and its own organization found evidence of DNA of Eurasian ruffe in Calumet Harbor, south of Chicago.
Two positive samples from the harbor were collected on July 8. The harbor is at the mouth of the Chicago-area waterway system. Environmental DNA is a surveillance tool that can be used to monitor the genetic presence of aquatic species.
The waterway system is part of an engineered canal that provides an artificial link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin and has been infiltrated with invasive Asian carp from the Mississippi for years.
That same system has the potential to introduce Eurasian ruffe in the Mississippi, according to the Nature Conservancy. The group said the genetic findings underscore the need for a permanent barrier to block species from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi systems.”
Read the complete article at the link above to learn more about this invasive species and the test results.

AIS project awarded inaugural ICMP grant

October 25th, 2013 by
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Management Program, aimed at protecting and managing the state’s Lake Michigan shoreline, recently announced the recipients of an inaugural round of grant funding. 

Among the projects selected for their ability to restore, protect, and maintain the beauty of the Lake Michigan shoreline, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s “AIS Outreach to Coastal Constituents” project was chosen for its ability to positively impact the Lake. The project, which seeks to continue spreading information and education about invasive species and their dangers to the Great Lakes, will help consumers, businesses, and residents better understand the dangers of invasive species and the simple steps that can prevent their introduction or spread. 

Sarah Zack, IISG Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist, looks forward to beginning this outreach project. “This award will allow the IISG AIS outreach team to educate a wide variety of people throughout the Lake Michigan coastal area about the threat AIS pose to our waters, since it provides for outreach to diverse groups – including water gardeners and recreational water users. We’re very excited to get started.”
The project will also build on the “Be a Hero – Transport Zero” campaign, which has already informed thousands of people in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana areas about these aquatic invaders. 
Look for further developments and information about these damaging species and how everyone can help prevent their transportation and spread throughout Illinois’ waterways.

New campaign asks water lovers to help stop aquatic invaders

June 14th, 2013 by
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are collaborating on a new campaign to get boaters, fishers, divers, and everyone who loves spending time on the water involved in protecting the environment. 
Be a Hero – Transport Zero” is a multi-season message that strikes at one of the big problems facing our waterways – aquatic invasive species. With three simple steps, though, everyone can help stop the spread of these aquatic invaders. Each time you leave a body of water, just take a minute to go through these easy procedures: 
 – Remove any plants, animals, and mud from boats, trailers and equipment
 – Drain everything (bait buckets, live wells, etc.)
 – Dry everything with a towel
From boaters and kayakers to waterfowl hunters, scuba divers, sea plane operators, and more, everyone can help prevent invasive species from taking over their favorite waterways with these three actions. 
And visit to learn more about preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

In the news: U.S. and Canadian officials committed to AIS action, divided on solutions

June 11th, 2013 by

Governors of the Great Lakes states and Canadian officials have recently vowed to work more closely to combat aquatic invasive species that threaten the Great Lakes system, but disagreements over the best course(s) of action linger.

From The Detroit News:

“But the difficult balancing act of weighing the economic and transportation interests of the eight states and two Canadian providences against the long-term ecological stability of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway was on full display Saturday at the Mackinac Island summit of regional officials.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, whose state has faced criticism and lawsuits for moving too slow to combat the invading Asian carp, surprised fellow governors by shifting the state’s position to support the sealing off of the manmade Chicago waterways that connect the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes.

‘Ultimately, I think we have to separate the basins,’ Quinn said at the first meeting of the Council of Great Lakes Governors in eight years. ‘I really feel that is the ultimate solution. We have to do it.’
Quinn’s endorsement of separating the two basins, seen as a potential breakthrough by environmentalists, was criticized by neighboring Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, even as the Great Lakes leaders sought to appear united on other issues at the summit.
Pence said his state remains opposed to closing the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal’s connection to Mississippi River tributaries that provide a southern transportation route for freighters carrying $1.9 billion in goods annually from Indiana factories and farms.”
Read the complete article at the link above.

IISG team brings AIS info to hundreds at the Indianapolis Boat, Sport, and Travel Show

February 22nd, 2013 by

Danielle Hilbrich from the IISG aquatic invasive species (AIS) outreach team attended the Indianapolis Boat, Sport, and Travel Show at the Indiana State Fair Grounds in Indianapolis, IN, February 15-17. Danielle teamed up with the Indiana DNR to host a booth and educate recreational water users about the dangers posed by invasive species. Danielle talked with more than 800 attendees about AIS, and handed out hundreds of stickers and brochures. Many show attendees regularly boat on lakes infested with invasive species and were aware of problems that Zebra Mussels, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Hydrilla, and other invasive species can cause for aquatic ecosystems.


Attendees were educated about the proper techniques to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, which include these simple steps: INSPECT and REMOVE any aquatic plants or animals from boats and recreational equipment, DRAIN all water from equipment, DISPOSE of unwanted live bait or fish into the trash, DRY equipment thoroughly, and never release organisms from one waterbody to another. One show-goer was surprised to find out that dumping bait in the trash was a way to prevent the spread of invasive species, and several others were glad to learn just how easy it could be to help keep these species from spreading to other waterways. 


The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant AIS outreach team is part of the Illinois Natural History Survey Lake Michigan Biological Station.


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.
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