Boaters urged to check, clean, dry

Kayakers on Snow Lake in Dover.
Kayakers on Snow Lake in Dover.

WINDHAM COUNTY - “Get ready, get set, and go” is the usual refrain during river season. The Connecticut River Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited would modify that refrain to “get ready, get set, and pause to think that it is up to you to protect the Connecticut River and its tributaries from invasions of exotic plants and animals.”
That means whether using a powerboat, rowboat, canoe, kayak, float, wade, swim, dive, fish or sail, everyone has a personal responsibility to protect the river, its tributaries, and local lakes.Enthusiasts should act as though every waterbody harbors problem species. Rely on the precautionary principle, be safe not sorry, and, with that said, it is not hard to protect the river. Just check, clean or dry.
Check: At the ramp during trailering, thoroughly inspect a boat’s hull, drive unit, trim plates, trolling plates, prop guards, transducers, anchor and anchor rope, and trailer and scrape off and properly dispose of any suspected mussels and all water weeds hanging from boat or trailer.
Clean: Before launching a boat, assume that some exotic was in the last body of water it was in and it is carrying it. Thoroughly flush the hull, drive unit, live wells, any pumping system, bilge, trailer, bait buckets, and engine-cooling water system. Drain all bilge water, live wells, bait buckets, and any other water from the boat and equipment at the ramp while leaving a water body.
Dry: If unable to clean water toys or tools, boats and trailers, PFDs, fishing waders, water shoes and boots, etc., dry them thoroughly in the sun for up to five days before using them in another water body. Hot water pumped through an engine’s intake is one method of preventing zebra mussel growth inside an engine’s cooling system. Do not use chlorine bleach or other damaging washing solutions in the water or next to the shore. If unsure that a water toy is clear of invasives, dry it.
There are no fixes once exotics establish themselves in a new habitat. If these invaders find their new surroundings welcoming, their numbers explode because they do not face predators that usual control their numbers and then unfortunately in some cases along with no predator control, the waterway has high levels of nutrients because of pollution sources giving the runaway species more nourishment.
Uncontrolled explosions of plant life deny native species their usual habitat. They also create problems for humans; just ask anyone living on a lake where Eurasian milfoil or water chestnut has taken hold or someone whose beach was closed because of an unnaturally large burst of cyanobacteria fed by nutrient loading.
The list of invasives Vermont faces continues to grow. Both Vermont and New Hampshire have recently increased boater responsibilities to prevent moving invasives among water bodies, including enforcement provisions for boat owners. If it’s a plant of any kind, exotic or not, and it is transport to a water body different than the plant’s origin, you are liable for a fine.
Trout Unlimited hopes all of those who play on, in or under the river or its tributaries will take personal responsibility to protect the river from further invasions by aquatic exotics. Remember: check, clean, or dry.

The Deerfield Valley News

797 VT Route 100 North
Wilmington, VT 05363

Phone: 802-464-3388
Fax: 802-464-7255

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