CLINTON — Summer is quickly approaching and Mississippi River activity is on the rise.
This year the Iowa DNR is urging boaters to “Clean, Drain, and Dry” all aquatic equipment.
The push for the clean, drain and dry campaign is to educate boaters about invasive aquatic species that are causing problems in Iowa lakes and rivers.
Boaters are encouraged to clean plants, animals and mud from the bottom of boats and trailers, drain all water from equipment such as motors and live wells, and dry boats, trailers and anything that comes in contact with the water before transporting to a different body of water.
Not only are boaters encouraged to clean, drain, and dry, but on July 1, they will be required to do so by law.
The current law states that it is illegal to transport or possess any prohibited invasive aquatic species. Changes that will be added July 1 include the transport or possession of all invasive species, not only prohibited ones.
The law also requires boaters to drain the water from all equipment. Refusal to do so will cost boaters $75 in fines.
Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator,Kim Bogenschutz said the state legislature is the one making the changes to the law, but thinks it will strongly benefit the efforts the Iowa DNR is making.
“Prevention is our main method of control with (invasive species) because we have little treatment. We do have some control options for the plants but it becomes very difficult once they settle somewhere because they completely take over,” Bogenschutz said.
Mike Griffin, Mississippi Wildlife Biologist for the Iowa DNR, said the main reason these plant species are such a problem for the area is because they are out competing the native plants that benefit the river and other water bodies.
“Wild celery is one of the most helpful plants on the Mississippi. It houses fish nurseries and is a main food source for Canvasback ducks and Muskrats. When these invasive species become thicker and stronger, they out compete the native plants like wild celery,” said Griffin.
The two major invasive plant species in the Clinton area are Eurasian Water Milfoil and Bitter Naiad. Although they have yet to cause damage to the Mississippi, they are starting to become a nuisance in the local lakes.
“With the fluctuation of water levels, we haven’t seen too much in the river, but the stable water in lakes is where we see the trouble areas,” said Griffin.
The best method to prevent the transport of these invasive aquatic species, Griffin said, is to follow the clean, drain, and dry guidelines.
“The more people ignore the removal, the harder it is to get off and the use of chemicals becomes necessary,” said Griffin,”we don’t like using chemicals, so just clean (the plants) off and throw them to the side of the boat ramp.”
Bogenshutz added that people should allow at least five days for the boat to dry in the sun but if pressed for time, boaters can use high pressure, hot water to rinse everything off.