As summer kicks into high gear, the non-profit Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) reminds boaters, paddlers, and watersport fans to be aware of their responsibility to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Non-native plants and animals can clog our waterways, displace native species, cause economic and environmental damage, and harm human health. These nuisance species can inconspicuously hitch rides on watercraft and be spread inadvertently from one water body to another unless a few simple prevention steps are followed.
Acknowledgement of the threat from aquatic invasive species has been growing nationwide. In the Northeast, rivers and lakes infested with aquatic invasive species are not only a detriment to natural biodiversity, but can also be an economic impact as infested waters can divert tourism to more pristine locations. In light of these negative impacts, a legislative bill was passed this month in New York that formally prohibits the transportation of aquatic invasive species and will help the state tackle a growing problem.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail educates the public about aquatic invasive species that threaten to change our waterways and significantly impact fish and wildlife populations. In 2012, the group began installing paddler-specific signs throughout the Lake Champlain Basin through a collaborative effort that included support from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. These signs share graphics reminding paddlers to clean, drain, and dry their boats and gear, especially when moving from one water body to another.
In 2013, NFCT added more signs along its 740-mile route in Maine, New Hampshire, and New York. NFCT also worked on a national campaign to create a video entitled “Clean Drain Dry for Paddlers” to inform canoeists and kayakers on methods they can use to keep their boats and paddling gear aquatic invasive free.
This summer, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail will install boat washing stations along the Missisquoi River in Vermont and the Upper Ammonoosuc River in New Hampshire with support from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and the New Hampshire Recreation Trail Program.
Fortunately for many sections of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, the problem of invasives is currently small, but the group recognizes that as more people head out on the Trail the risk of unintentionally spreading these species to formally healthy waters increases. “Clean Drain Dry” is a slogan the group and others have adopted as a way to remind paddlers what to do when transitioning between water bodies.
Watch recommendations on how canoeists and kayakers can help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species at http://bit.ly/CleanDrainDry.