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Aquatic invasives

Early detection of invasive species is crucial as control and containment costs of problematic invaders increase rapidly once the species becomes established. Citizen volunteers across the state are constantly on the lookout for new invaders in lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands. Volunteers can attend training sessions to learn to identify invasive plants and animals. Some volunteer also help rear and release beetles to control purple loosestrife infestations.

Citizen Lake Monitoring

Chinese mystery snails, an invasive species, often first found in lakes by volunteers.
Chinese mystery snails are an invasive species often first found in lakes by volunteers.

Through Wisconsin's Citizen Lake Monitoring network, many volunteers look for aquatic invasive species on lakes. Invasive species monitored for include Curly-Leaf Pondweed, Eurasian Water-Milfoil, Mystery Snails, Rusty Crayfish and Zebra Mussels.To Get Involved: Contact your regional citizen lake monitoring coordinator and/or register for a free workshop [exit DNR].


Clean Boats, Clean Waters

Volunteers talking to a boater about invasive species.
Volunteers talking to a boater about invasive species through Clean Boats, Clean Waters.

Volunteers can also help stop the spread of invasives species across the state by becoming involved in the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program. Volunteers are trained to organize and conduct watercraft inspections at the boat landings in their communities. Trained volunteers then educate boaters on how and where invasive species are most likely to hitch a ride into water bodies. By performing boat and trailers checks, distributing informational brochures, collecting and reporting suspect specimens, volunteers can make a difference in helping to prevent the spread of invasive species. To Get Involved: Register for a free workshop [exit DNR].


Project RED

A volunteer finding invasive plants while monitoring a local river.
Volunteers monitor stretches of rivers and streams for invasive plant and animal species.

The River Alliance of Wisconsin recognized a need for more monitoring of invasive species in river corridors, and developed Project Riverine Early Detection (RED) with the support of a DNR Aquatic Invasive Species grant. The goal of Project RED is to engage river groups in invasive species issues, and document the spread of a variety of important invaders.

Wisconsin's rivers are vulnerable to invasion by a number of invasive species from Eurasian milfoil to Japanese knotweed. The key to successfully protecting your river is detecting invasives early when it is still possible to isolate or eradicate the infestation. Knowledgeable volunteers are often to thank for early detection. Project RED (River Early Detectors) provides volunteers with the necessary tools to monitor their river by canoe, kayak, or on foot for species of concern. The River Alliance of Wisconsin and Wisconsin DNR staff will train you to identify invasive species, choose priority monitoring locations and will provide you with online data management tools available through the Wisconsin DNR SWIMS database to report and map your findings. For a free workshop, contact the River Alliance of Wisconsin at (608) 257-2424. For more information on volunteering with Project RED, email lmacfarland@wisconsinrivers.org or call (608) 257-2424 ext. 110.

Project RED [exit DNR]


Purple Loosestrife

Purple loosestrife is an invasive species found in many Wisconsin wetlands.
Volunteer monitoring and control of purple loosestrife, an invasive species found in wetlands, has been a true success story in Wisconsin.

Got purple loosestrife taking over your marsh, and pushing out all your native plants and animals? Get into rearing safe, effective biological control beetles right at home or school for release into your weary wetlands by joining hundreds of other citizens in Wisconsin's Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Program. Harnessing nature to control itself may be the only viable long-term management for many invasive plants, and it sure is working for this one. These carefully chosen beetles have been propagated and released in Wisconsin for over 15 years with only good results. Why not give it a try where you have purple pests of your own to curb? The beetles won't eliminate the loosestrife, but will reduce its seed output and height, making it easier for native plants and animals to reclaim their rightful places in your watery wonderlands.

The program provides most of the gear and the starter beetles necessary for free. You'll dig up a few local loosestrife rootstocks, transplant them into free pots with some local potting soil, and sew free netting into sleeve cages used to protect the plants as they grow. Once plants are about two feet tall, you'll put ten free beetles into each cage and water the plants until they grow upwards of 1,000 new beetles on each one! These will want to chow down on the loosestrife lurking in your wetlands, so you release them by simply putting the pots out and removing the cages. These bomber beetles will fly themselves to the only plants they really care about: your loathsome loosestrife!

Purple loosestrife is here to stay, but with your help we can champion the checks and balances needed to protect our native species from this purple persecution. You can be part of the solution that results in a diverse, healthy environment. For questions, email Brock Woods, or call 608.221.6349. Get Involved.

Last Revised: Thursday May 22 2014