Invasive species continue to change the natural ecosystem of the Lake of the Woods district, and those changes are rarely welcome ones. The growth of the tourism industry and property development in the Lake of the Woods district draws more boats and watercrafts into the area each year, providing important economic growth to the area. However, this increased traffic in our waterways creates more opportunities for invasive species—rusty crayfish, spiny water flea and the recent emergence of zebra mussels—to spread and impact the natural ecosystem.
LOWDSA’s vision is to preserve one of the most beautiful places on earth as a high-quality environment for future generations to enjoy. For years, LOWDSA has promoted the practice of Clean, Drain, Dry to boaters, sharing information and promoting every boating enthusiast’s responsibility to clean their watercraft, drain remaining water and allow the boat to dry before transferring it between water bodies.
In 2020, LOWDSA is beginning to work towards the creation of a program to encourage all boaters to get into the habit of cleaning their boats with the use of a LOWDSA mobile boat wash station. Boat wash stations provide decontamination opportunities for boaters and significantly reduce the chance of introducing invasive species to water bodies through the use of pressure washers to clean the watercrafts. The proposed LOWDSA mobile boat wash station will provide the opportunity to clean watercrafts in multiple locations throughout the summer months. LOWDSA is working diligently to secure partnerships and sponsors to fund the mobile boat wash station and to have it on site at gatherings, boat ramps and tournaments around the Lake of the Woods area. It would take dozens of mobile boat wash stations to decontaminate all the boats entering or exiting our waterways in the Lake of the Woods watershed. However, we can make a real difference with one of them moving around the district cleaning dozens and dozens of boats each season, educating many hundreds on the importance and ‘how to’ of Clean, Drain, Dry and preventing the spread of invasive species in the process.
The LOWDSA board of directors has allocated dollars in the Environmental Initiatives and Special Projects (EISP) fund to initiate the funding campaign for this project. In addition to helping protect local waterbodies by reducing the spread of invasive species, the mobile boat wash station will serve as a self-contained education program complementing our flagship LakeSmart program and focusing directly on the impacts of invasive species. Throughout the summer months each year, LOWDSA will look to have board members, staff, students and volunteers work with the mobile wash station and with boaters interested in taking part, having their boat cleaned and walking through an inspection. By doing so, boaters will learn how to properly check and clean watercrafts and the impacts of invasive species to our water bodies.
Practicing Clean, Drain, Dry through the use of the LOWDSA mobile boat wash station is one of the simplest ways to work together to protect against the spread of invasive species. LOWDSA is looking forward to continuing work on this project and discussions with our partners on how to bring it to reality.
Continue to watch for updates and if you or anyone you know would like to be involved, as always, reach out to our association. We look forward to seeing you on the water and continuing to practice Clean, Drain, Dry in the Lake of the Woods area.
Plans for the LOWDSA mobile boat wash station are continuing but will only go forward within the necessary precautions we are all taking at this time. As decisions are made, we will post them on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you are not already receiving the LOWDSA eNews and would like to, make sure your current email address is on your profile.