Hundreds of volunteers are helping the Department of Natural Resources at Wisconsin boat landings this weekend, in an annual Independence Day "blitz" to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species.
School counselor Nate Rice is spending four days volunteering at lakes in Waukesha County. He approaches boaters in a friendly way, he said, and thinks they appreciate the informal discussions.
"I do think that having volunteers wearing a t-shirt and are out to enjoy the sunny weather and exciting Wisconsin summer is an effective tool," Rice said. "Because I feel if you're talking peer-to-peer, that is an excellent way to share positive information about what boaters can do."
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Rice said he talks about removing all aquatic plants and animals from boats, draining water from live wells and disposing of unwanted bait in the trash. He said he was at first skeptical of volunteering, but has since seen volunteers make a difference.
"Where you're at the launch, and someone attempts to launch carrying an invasive species, we ask them to remove it, and in my experience everybody's been happy to remove that invasive species," he said. "That really makes me feel good."
The DNR says it hopes to reduce the spread of harmful mussels, fish viruses and plants like the Eurasian watermilfoil.