Melissa DeSimone, MLSA Executive Director

We know cleaning, draining, and drying our boats is the best way to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species. This is so well understood that we’ve had a law on the books in Michigan since 2019.

Michigan law requires that a person remove all aquatic plants from watercraft, watercraft equipment, and trailers before placing these into Michigan waters. Prior to transporting any watercraft over land, boaters are required to do all of the following:

  • Remove all drain plugs from bilges, ballast tanks, and live wells.
  • Drain all water from any live wells and bilges.
  • Ensure that the watercraft, trailer, and any conveyance used to transport the watercraft or trailer are free of aquatic organisms, including plants.
  • This means that after trailering boats, and before getting on the road, boaters must pull plugs, drain water and remove plants and debris.
  • Violation of the law is a state civil infraction and violators may be subject to fines up to $100.

How do we ensure that the visitors to our boat launches follow the law and do the right thing by our waters? We make it accessible and easy by installing a boat wash. We had an article in The Michigan Riparian magazine in Winter 2016 entitled, “Tips for Starting a Boat Wash” and other article in the Summer 2021 issue entitled, “Boat Cleaning Equipment at Launch Sites can Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species“. We want to take this work a step further with specific questions and help associations and other interested parties install wash stations for their access sites. Below is a list of questions you will need to be able to answer completely before pursuing a wash station project and perhaps applying for grant money to help pay for the initial system as well as upkeep through the years.

Start with answers to these questions:

  • What type of property do you want the boat wash on? How big is it, is it paved or gravel, and who owns it?
  • How much traffic does the access have? How many parking spaces?
  • Where would you want to place the boat wash? (create a map with boat wash placement)
  • Which type of system do you want to purchase?
  • How will you handle upkeep, repairs, annual costs?
  • Do you have a special assessment district and does the language allow you to use those funds for a preventative project like this?
  • Which invasive species are in your lake? Find out if there are invasives in neighboring lakes that you do not have yet (this will help with possible grant proposals).

After you have all this information it is important to talk with the official owner of the site and/or the DNR agent responsible for the site to work together for the next steps. You will also need to ask yourself if this is something your association would like to use funds for or if you want/need to pay for it in another fashion. For this, we are keeping our eyes and ears open to help connect you with those opportunities when they are made available. Having all the information listed here in this article handy will help you take advantage of any opportunity that may present itself to your group.

Consider this your summer homework for any group interested in a boat wash project, stay tuned to this newsletter for funding opportunities and a possible fall workshop to continue the pursuit of your own project.

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