COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and The Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant Program are taking a leadership role in educating boaters and the public about the serious risks of spreading aquatic invasive species (AIS) during the third annual Great Lakes AIS Landing Blitz, which runs June 26 to July 4.
“A record number of Ohioans are discovering the joys of boating and on-the-water recreation this summer,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “ODNR is excited to join both state and national partners to educate our boaters about practices they can follow which will help us fight the spread of aquatic invasive species in Lake Erie and other Ohio waterways.”
Ohio’s boaters are encouraged to properly inspect and clean boats, boots, and other outdoor equipment when traveling from one location to the next. This prevents the spread of invasive species, which is recognized as one of the most significant threats to the ecological and economic health of the Great Lakes and Ohio.
“Ohio Sea Grant has long been involved in the regional ‘Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers’ campaign as well as research on aquatic invasive species,” says Director Chris Winslow of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory. “We look forward to bringing together some of the state’s top experts to share their knowledge and insight on this important Lake Erie topic which impacts our wildlife, tourism, and economy.”
During July, as part of this year’s Landing Blitz, ODNR, working in partnership with Ohio Sea Grant, will host a series of webinars related to increasing invasive species awareness and preventative measures. Webinars will begin on Wednesday, July 7 at 10 a.m. EST and will be offered every Wednesday at 10 a.m. through Aug. 4.
Specific topics for these free webinars will range from practicing “clean, drain, dry” after removing a boat, as well as an overview of invasive aquatic species and the proper disposal of unwanted bait. Each webinar will feature experts and offer an opportunity for viewers to ask questions.
To learn more about the webinars, visit the Ohio State Parks Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ohiostateparks/events. Visit The Ohio DNR on YouTube to watch the recordings.
The annual Great Lakes AIS Landing Blitz is coordinated annually among state and provincial agencies with the support of the Great Lakes Commission and partner organizations. For more information on participating locations, volunteer opportunities or to request educational materials, visit www.glc.org/blitz.