By KEVIN DUFFY
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan State University is fighting the state’s worst aquatic invaders with mobile lakeside education and free boat washes. A grant from the Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Forest Service supports the portable project, which has already landed in 32 inland lakes as part of the “Clean, Drain, Dry” initiative. “Boats and boat trailers are the number one means of lake-to-lake transport for invasive species,” said Sarah Plantrich, a project outreach volunteer. With more than 150 boats washed, Plantrich and other volunteers have discovered and removed aquatic invaders that threaten the health of lake systems.
Some plant invaders, like the Eurasian watermilfoil, crowd out native species. Others, including starry stonewort, release chemicals that dampen native species’ growth and form dense meadows that keep fish from spawning.