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Clean boats, clean waters, make for healthy boating

Wisconsin residents and visitors who are passionate about protecting waters from aquatic invasive species, know the impact they can have on state waters and native species. For nearly 15 years, Clean Boats, Clean Waters (CBCW) boat inspectors and educators, have met boaters at lake and river launches, to remind them that by taking simple preventative steps, they play a vital role.

This summer, hundreds of launches will be staffed as usual by people in their blue CBCW t-shirts, but most will also have on a cloth CBCW mask and maintain physical distancing.

“We know that the prevention guidance of inspect, remove, drain, never move, is effective at preventing the spread of invasive aquatic plants and animals,” said Erin McFarlane, statewide CBCW Eeducator with the University of Wisconsin- Extension Lakes Program. “Taking a minute or two to remove all the plants, animals, mud and debris, from your boat and trailer, while draining water from the bilge and live well, is all it takes to prevent a new invasive species from establishing in your favorite lake or river.”

Surveys of Wisconsin boaters and anglers, show that most boaters perform these actions nearly every time they are on the water. However, infrequent boaters may not be aware of the prevention steps and even frequent boaters might forget.

McFarlane said if CBCW staff are not at a launch, boaters can support each other by modeling good prevention behavior.

“Every boater and angler, have a role to play in protecting our lakes and rivers,” she said. “We’re thankful for people currently doing their part.”

To help keep Wisconsin waterbodies clean, the following steps should be performed:

• Inspect boats, trailers and equipment, for attached aquatic plants or animals

• Remove all attached plants or animals

• Drain all water from boats, motors, livewells and other equipment

• Never move live fish away from a waterbody

• Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash

• Buy minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer

• Only use leftover minnows when fishing with them on the same body of water, or on other waters if no lake/river water or other fish have been added to the container.

Following these steps helps boaters comply with Wisconsin state law, which prohibits the transport of aquatic invasive species. To learn more about invasive species, and their impacts to Wisconsin’s waters and economy, visit