An effort to educate Nebraska boaters about the spread of aquatic plants begins this summer.
Allison Zach, Nebraska Invasive Species Program coordinator, says her staff and Nebraska Game and Parks officials will be at boat ramps throughout the state. The goal is to teach boaters about cleaning, draining, and drying.
“It’s an easy thing to do – to inspect your boat, remove any mud and plant materials for your boat, your trailer, your vehicle before you leave the area,” Zach tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Pull those drain plugs and let that thing dry for five days. Zebra mussels and other aquatic plant parts, if they dry out, they’ll die.”
Zach says the effort includes more signage and outreach efforts at community events and outdoor expos.
One plant posing a significant risk to wildlife habitat is phragmites, also known as common reed. It grows in any wet soil, including ditches and along railroad tracks. The reeds take over and become so thick, flooding can occur.
“Phragmites have seeds and even just parts of the plant that get on your boat or your gear, and then you move them, they’re very transmissible,” Zach says. “I think aquatic invasive plants are a bigger risk, and concern of mine, just because our eradication of them is sometimes very difficult.”
Experts say the easiest way to control phragmites is to begin a control program as soon as it is spotted.