During the month of August, we are featuring blog posts about invasive species in the Chicago Wilderness region and what member organizations are doing to help control invasive species and restore our natural areas. To start off the month, we invited Cathy McGlynn of the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) to provide an update on the Hydrilla Hunt, a public outreach campaign to help manage an aquatic superweed!
By Cathy McGlynn
The Illinois Hydrilla Task Force launched its Hydrilla Hunt! on June 13th. The Hydrilla Hunt! is a program that uses education and outreach to raise awareness about the federally listed aquatic noxious weed Hydrilla among boaters, anglers, recreational water users and the general public. Hydrilla grows very quickly and produces dense mats of vegetation in the water that interfere with boating, fishing, swimming and enjoyment of recreational water activities. It also affects the value of waterfront properties. We are asking everyone to keep a lookout for this plant at their favorite lakes, ponds, and rivers until first frost arrives. Information about how to identify and report a possible infestation can be found here.
Since launching the program, the Task Force has contacted more than 22 media outlets, more than 48 non-government organizations, 15 governmental organizations, and regional marinas to spread the word. We have also enlisted the help of the Illinois Lakes Management Association, Illinois Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, RiverWatch, Illinois EPA and Illinois Department of Natural Resources fisheries’ biologists to keep watch. So far we have received three reports to our email account. Fortunately, none of the photos submitted were of Hydrilla. However, we ask that people remain vigilant about looking for and reporting this species. When an infestation is reported early we have a chance of eradicating it quickly and relatively inexpensively before it has severe impacts on native plants and animals.
Ideally the best method for dealing with Hydrilla, or any aquatic invasive species, is prevention. Removing aquatic plants and animals from boats and trailers, angling and recreational water equipment, and scuba gear is an easy solution to this problem and is now required by law effective January 1, 2013 (Illinois Boat Registration and Safety Act). Additional tips for maintaining your equipment and preventing the spread of aquatic invaders are provided by the new Illinois campaign “Be a Hero, Transport Zero” and offered in person by site leaders of the Clean Boats Crew. Everyone can do their part to protect our natural resources!