What you can do about aquatic invasive species/Janet Marr

Some Copper Country lakes now have fleas. (Spiny water fleas, that is). Eurasian water-milfoil, another infamous and unwelcome aquatic invasive species, has also put in an appearance. So … as you may well ask, why should I care about these and other aquatic invasive species (AIS)? Here are some of the “whys.”

Aquatic invasive species may become very aggressive and spread rapidly once established. They can destroy fish nursery habitat and other biological resources; restrict fishing, boating, and other recreational water activities; reduce plant/animal diversity; decrease property values; and are very expensive to manage.

Spiny water fleas (actually a crustacean, not a flea) compete with native fish for food and foul fishing gear.

Dense Eurasian water-milfoil mats entangle boat propellers and interfere with swimming and fishing. If an infestation is bad enough, a path may even need to be cleared through the tangle of plants for boats to get to and from a boat launch or dock.

Where have spiny water flea and Eurasian water-milfoil been found in Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw Counties? Spiny water flea is known from these area waterbodies (Medora, Gratiot, Fanny Hooe, Lac La Belle, and the Portage). To date, it is not known from any of Isle Royale’s inland lakes. Isle Royale has had rigorous control measures in place for several years to prevent the spread of spiny water flea from Lake Superior into its inland lakes.

Eurasian water-milfoil was discovered last fall in Chassell’s Pike Bay and other parts of the Keweenaw/Portage Waterway. Currently, a committee of concerned Chassell Township residents and officials is discussing management of the Pike Bay infestation. In addition to the Keweenaw/Portage Waterway, Eurasian water-milfoil is known from Prickett and Keewaydin Lakes, and a pond near Baraga.

Other AIS in our 3-county area or nearby counties include zebra mussel that occurs in Isle Royale’s Rock Harbor and Washington Harbor, and curly-leaf pondweed, known from Gogebic and Iron counties.

Preventing AIS from invading an uninfested waterbody will save a lot of headaches down the road! How can you help prevent spread of AIS into our area’s lakes? Clean, drain and dry your boat, trailer, and equipment every time you leave a body of water. Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash, and never release plants and animals into a water body unless they came from that water body. The use of a U.S. Forest Service portable pressure washer, a tool for preventing the spread of AIS, will be demonstrated at some local fishing events including the Knights of Columbus Pike/Walleye Tournament on June 1 at Lake Linden.

For information about AIS found in our area or region, how to identify and manage AIS, or if you want to report an AIS sighting, please contact Sue (Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District) at 906-482-0214; sue.haralson@mi.nacdnet.net or Janet (Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area or KISMA) at 906-337-5529; jkmarr@mtu.edu Here’s a good website to learn more about AIS: www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/aquatics/main.shtml

What is KISMA? Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area’s mission is to facilitate cooperation and education among federal, state, tribal, and local groups