MADISON - Two online reports document progress made in 2011-2012 in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species to Wisconsin lakes, rivers, forests and wetlands, and outline needs to fill in the gaps.
Posted in December 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Report to the Legislature on Invasive Species Programs, highlights efforts by DNR programs to address invasive species, which can crowd out native plant and animal species, threaten core business sectors including agriculture, tourism, forestry and energy, and hamper recreation.
Report highlights include the department's systematic surveys of lakes to detect invaders when their populations can most cost-efficiently be addressed, expanding efforts to get out the "Don't Move Firewood" message, inspecting a record number of boats and contacting people with information about aquatic invasive species.
The report details DNR investment in managing invasive species and highlights where additional funds and capacity building are strongly needed in order to protect Wisconsin from some of the worst invaders, says Mindy Wilkinson, DNR invasive species coordinator.
A second report, the 2010-2012 Wisconsin Aquatic Invasive Species Progress Report, drills down into efforts to help stop the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species including Eurasian water-milfoil, zebra mussels, Asian carp and more.
"There are an enormous number of people that make the AIS Partnership successful and Wisconsin is fortunate to have these dedicated and enthusiastic individuals and organizations as partners." says Bob Wakeman, DNR's statewide AIS coordinator. "I'd like to thank everyone that has worked so hard to prevent, contain and control AIS in Wisconsin."
Wakeman says this network has allowed the DNR to help expand successful local programs to all areas of the state. In one example, the Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project organizes hundreds of citizen cooperators to raise and release Galerucella beetles to control purple loosestrife in their local wetlands. Over the past two years, 4.6 billion beetles have been raised and released into 200 wetland sites throughout Wisconsin and are showing significant progress in knocking back the loosestrife populations.
Local prevention and control grants have allowed the DNR to provide almost $4 million annually to help local groups address aquatic invasive species in their waterways. The grants help sustain ongoing efforts as well as get innovative projects off the ground, such as Aquatic Invasive Removal Stations in Dane County, which provide tools to help boaters pull off hard-to-reach vegetation.
Wisconsin's statewide Landing Blitz, a concentrated push to help inspect boats and share AIS prevention methods at boat landings during the busy July 4th holiday week, is made possible by volunteers and paid inspectors from local lake groups, county and tribal entities, non-profit organizations and college interns with University of Wisconsin Sea Grant and UW-Oshkosh. The number of participating lakes grew from 90 in 2011 to more than 200 this year, and resulted in nearly 16,000 boats being inspected and more than 34,000 people contacted.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mindy Wilkinson (608) 266-6437; Chrystal Schreck (608) 264-8590; Bob Wakeman (262) 574-2149