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Fewer Volunteers Helping To Check For Invasives: DNR

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In a report to the state Natural Resources Board, a DNR spokeperson says they're shifting more toward paid inspection help at boat landings rather than volunteers.

Meeting in Madison Tuesday,(3-1-17) the board heard from DNR Section Chief Carroll Schaal about the efforts to get rid of invasive species Eurasian Water Milfoil in Wisconsin waters.

Once introduced, the plant spreads rapidly, choking out native species and clogging the water.

Schaal says in the last decade, volunteers have been the main thrust stopping the spread...

"....watercraft inspection, or Clean Boats, Clean Waters is the main tool. Watercraft is the main way the species move between lakes. In 2006, almost 100,000 hours are put into our landings by volunteers. Without local funding and local volunteers we would have no prevention programs...."

But a graph showed in the past decade the numbers of volunteers have been dropping and more paid monitors have been in place...

"....it started out years ago as a volunteer program...volunteer burnout...people get tired of manning landings year after year and we created a way to streamline grant programs so people can get money for hiring seasonal help and yes, we've shifted over to a paid program...."

Schaal noted the success of reducing milfoil in the Eagle Chain of Lakes where chemical treatment has reduced the amount to the point where it can be controlled by hand pulling. He says at one point about 300 acres of milfoil were found, now down to about 20 acres over multiple lakes.

He says there is evidence that using too much herbicide on milfoil actually begins a process where the plants adapt and the chemical is not as effective.