Aquatic Invasive Species – The Current 24

Hello everyone, and welcome to The Current. The Current is the North Central Region Water Network’s speed networking webinar series. The North Central Region Water Network is a university extension led collaboration among land-grant universities in 12 upper Midwestern states. My name is Rebecca Power and I will be your moderator for today. Our webinar today will focus on aquatic invasive species. We will share some examples of extension programming that address aquatic invasive species and also citizen engagement and citizen science that addresses AIS. In the first half of our 60-minute program we will have five great presenters tell us about their approach to AIS in their states and then we’ll have some time for discussion. So to introduce them briefly and we’ll get into more detail later: Tim Campbell’s gonna kick us off, Tim is from the University of Wisconsin Extension UW Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Tim wears many hats. Paul Skawinski and Erin McFarlane are from the University of Wisconsin Extension, they’re going to be talking a little bit about Wisconsin’s citizen monitoring program for AIS, and clean boats and clean waters. Jo Latimore, from Michigan State University, is going to talk about Michigan’s citizen monitoring program for aquatic invasive species and some lessons learned there, and Eleanor Burkett from the University of Minnesota Extension is going to talk about Minnesota’s new AIS detector program. So great lineup for you today and I’m just going to go ahead and and toss it right over to Tim Campbell, who is an aquatic invasive species outreach specialist for UW-Extension, Sea Grant, and DNR as I mentioned. He coordinates AIS outreach between all three organizations and works to incorporate regional efforts into local programs which is what he’s gonna tell us a little bit about right now. So Tim, go right ahead. Thanks for the introduction Rebecca and I don’t want to take up too much time but I’d like to give everyone just a quick overview of what our aquatic invasive species working group looks like and our working group started with a Sea Grant from the North Central Region Water Network, so thank you North Central Region Water Network. It really provided some initial resources to help get us together, and start the conversation, on what we might all like to work together on. And what we’re really hoping that our working group does is increase collaboration among aquatic invasive species professionals which there are at least a few of, within extension, with the North Central Region Water Network but also Extension folks that are just interested in aquatic invasive species or where aquatic invasive species may just intersect a part of their program, we’d really like to welcome those folks in as well, because I think instead of recreating the wheel for certain programming efforts, you might be able to look to our working group to figure out ways that already exist to help address problems that you may be having. And hopefully we can, as a network share programming resources, learn from each other and see what might be applicable in multiple states if something’s already created. And with our Sea grant as a working group we were able to attend the Upper Midwest Invasive Species conference which was held in La Crosse, Wisconsin in October and that gave us a chance to go, all get on the same page, on kind of the current science of invasive species especially the Upper Midwest and then also try to identify some items, or some programs that we’re all interested in and moving forward as a working group, we plan on filling out a programming resources spreadsheet so we all have a really good idea of what things we’re working on across the North Central Region Water Network and if there’s things that interest us, maybe we can explore applying those all together. Let me see, I’m trying to read my notes here and my handwriting is getting worse and worse. We look to have a webinar series for workshopping some of our programs and we hope to have a nice tight working group, so that way if we have new ideas or programs that are just getting off the ground, we can get together, talk about them, and just try to help each other out in making our programs be the best they can be. Right now it seems like our current interest, as you can see by the webinar program is citizen monitoring and citizen science and hopefully at least in our first couple of months we can really focus on that and try to make our programs the best they can be, so at that Rebecca I’ll give it back to you and we can start hearing about these programs. Thank you, Tim, thank you and to Jo for providing leadership for this North Central Region Water Network sub hub and we will also have a Q&A session at the end where you all participants here will be able to submit your questions for all of our presenters in the chat box at the lower left-hand portion of your screen and we can take questions about any of the programs as well as potential opportunities to participate in the team that Tim was talking about. So, with that let’s move on to Paul Skawinski and Erin McFarlane. I’m not going to read their introductions but just to say that they are both from UW Extension, the Lakes Program, and are gonna tell us a little bit about some of UW Extension’s activities and aquatic invasive species and the clean boats, clean waters program here in WI. So go ahead. Paul: it looks like I have control, but Erin — You both have control. Ok I will see how I can start out and hi everyone I’m gonna be okay perfect I’ve not used Blackboard before, I apologize for the learning curve. Hi everyone, I’m Erin McFarlane I help coordinate the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program for Wisconsin It is Wisconsin’s watercraft inspection program so, and probably a few too many slides to get thru in 5 minutes, I’ll try to give you an overview and I’ll look forward to answering questions that you have about the program. Some of you may be familiar with watercraft inspection programs in other states but really our goal for our state program is to engage citizens and get them to take action in our local community regarding aquatic invasive species prevention and outreach. The Clean Boats, Clean Waters program started in 2004 and really it began as a grassroots effort in northern Wisconsin in the Minocqua area. And it looks like the picture’s a little messed up there on the bottom but what you’re looking at there is the three students who really started this program. They noticed that there was an aquatic plant in the local lake that was really kind of building these mats across the lake and causing some problems for boating and enjoying the lake, and they wanted to learn more about it. Discovered it was Eurasian water milfoil and that grew from there and they decided the best way to share with people what Eurasian water milfoil was, an aquatic invasive species and how it is spread by boaters, would be to stand at the boat landing and talk with people. They called themselves the Milfoil Masters if you can’t read that on their shirt and then in 2004 the state adopted the program, naming it Clean Boats, Clean Waters. So it’s kind of a cool beginning for the state’s program. Just in short, what an inspection actually consists of, primarily our goal is to engage and educate the boaters and anglers that visit the boat landing, on what are aquatic invasive species if they’re not familiar and how are they spread. We encourage the inspectors to have an engaging conversation and we’ll look at a data sheet in a little bit that shows you how they do that. The last part, which is probably the less important part to our citizens but more important to our statewide program is the collecting and then reporting of data while they’re at the boat landing. And like I said we’ll look at that datasheet in just a minute. So you’re probably all aware of how to prevent aquatic invasive species but just to show you, these are the steps that we ask our inspectors to share when they’re at the boat landing. We try to be very consistent and always ask them to share this information with the people who are fishing and boating and they’ll share specific steps with boaters and anglers depending on what activities they’re doing. So just to give an example, here’s the data sheet that our inspectors use and it’s a little distorted on the screen sorry about that, for some reason all the slides are distorted here, But it kind of gives you an idea it’s a pretty basic datasheet, across the top there they put their information in, and then each line would be reflected for a boater or angler than they talk to. Really the most important part of the data sheet is that block in the middle, that talks about discussing prevention steps, you’ll notice it’s not really a section where they record any data, it’s really just there to guide them through their conversation and that’s one of the most important parts of doing inspection, is we really would like them to engage boaters and anglers in a conversation, instead of just instructing them about what our aquatic invasive species prevention steps or regulations are, let’s actually engage them with some questions and hopefully they can understand and help answer any questions the boaters or anglers might have. You’ll notice in that section too when our inspectors talk to someone who is simply out boating, they’ll cover specific prevention steps through draining their water but if they are also fishing, then they’ll also go into draining water from livewells, and share the live bait laws. These sheets are also entered into statewide database called SWIMS, that’s “surface water integrated monitoring system” and so we’re able to see on totals across the state, totals within counties and even lower beyond that to specific projects on a specific lake. So just to give you a general idea of what 2016 was like for us we’ve been very fortunate to be over a hundred thousand boats inspected for quite a few years now, and that’s one of our goals is to keep it above that number. And we have a pretty impressive number of people contacted too. So you’ll notice that really the data that our inspectors report is how many people they have talked to, the hours they spent, the boats inspected but we are also curious about what boaters and anglers are reporting as far as the actions they take, are they actually taking these prevention steps at the boat landing. There’s the secondary study that we have regarding that our staff across the state participate in, the Clean Boats, Clean Waters Boater Behavior Study. It’s a stratified random sample study, we’ve been doing a study for gosh this might be our third or fourth year now, and we’re hoping by being more strategic in where we have the study take place, we can get more accurate data and get a better idea of what actions boaters are actually taking, it’s still self-reported data so there’s going to be some bias there, but it’s very helpful for reporting back to the legislature, about what Wisconsin’s Clean Boats, Clean Waters program is achieving and the whole point. And lastly, just in case any of you guys are wondering like “why do we do watercraft inspection?” it is still the most cost-effective prevention tool that we have and some of us that agree more about it being a good containment tool but it is very effective at keeping aquatic invasive species where they are, but of course you always want to prevent them from arriving into a lake as well. There’s been studies about the effectiveness of just having the visual inspections and that’s what that second bullet, kind of refers to one of the studies the Nature Conservancy did. It also really helps, our local lake citizens feel like they can take ownership of the program and take action on their lake. I never think it’s a bad thing to actually get folks engaged and active locally. I’ll be happy to take questions later I think. So, thanks! All right thanks Erin, and again this is Paul Skawinski, I’m the citizen lake monitoring network coordinator for the state of Wisconsin. In 2008, we launched an aquatic invasive species monitoring component of the network and this is relying primarily on county level AIS coordinators so we have several statewide staff including Tim Campbell who you heard from before Jenny Seaford, they do a lot of the communications work related to AIS. We have an AIS monitoring lead at the DNR and then we have Aaron and myself coordinating the volunteer AIS programs for the state. But a lot of the on-the-ground work related to volunteer AIS monitoring is actually coordinated by county level or regional level AIS coordinators in the state. In 2010 there was a big initiative statewide to push for lots of volunteers to be involved in AIS monitoring and we reached almost 350 volunteers that were out monitoring and recording data so there’s probably a higher number than that were actually doing the monitoring. We always have more that are actually monitoring than the ones that are entering the data in the database. So the question that we had when we look at the graph here, is what happened after 2010. There was clearly a decline in interest in AIS monitoring and we were wondering why is that? So we decided to just ask volunteers themselves what they feel is limiting volunteer involvement in AIS monitoring and nearly 45-percent of people said that they don’t think AIS monitoring data would result in changes to management actions. In other words if I find zebra mussels in my lake, and I report it in the database is anything going to be different next year? they question whether that’s the case or not. Also there is clearly a big three here, nearly 41-percent said that AIS monitoring is just too difficult or the training that we provide is inadequate to give volunteers the confidence they need to detect and identify AIS. And then many of them also felt that the AIS monitoring simply takes too much time. Many of our lake residents are seasonal residents, they often come up to the lake on weekends, they don’t want to spend a lot of their weekend volunteering or working. So we also heard that people feel that if they already have an invasive species or more than one they don’t feel the need to monitor the lake, because they’re already detected and about fifteen percent said they don’t have a boat so they can’t monitor effectively. So to tackle a couple of these issues, we decided that we’re gonna do away with the over 300 page manual that had been used for quite awhile, and split this into two documents. So one of them was going to be a very small easy-to-read color document that we’re calling the Early Detector Handbook and this is basically finished now, it will be going to print soon, so this will be something new for the 2017 season. This is very simple, you can read through the entire thing in under 10 minutes, it’s full of color photographs and it’s mostly an identification guide but also contains things like monitoring protocols. If anyone wants to learn a lot of real detailed information about an individual species, then they would turn to a second document which is probably going to be 80 or a hundred pages still, but it will be this optional thing that’s not really going to be required by any volunteers, but it will be there as a resource if they’d like to learn more. We also started offering the Wisconsin DNR aquatic plant training workshops to CLMN volunteers as well as DNR staff, county staff, tribal staff people who typically have attended that session. We opened this up starting last year and we saw that probably twenty to twenty-five percent of the participants we had in those workshops were actually citizen volunteers. So it’s fantastic to see the interest on their part and we’ll continue to offer that to them to help increase that confidence in identifying AIS. This is just a sample page from within the new handbook So you can get an idea of what’s inside. As far as needing a boat previously we never really had any solid protocols in the old manual, it was more guidance, it would suggest if you want to look for Eurasian milfoil this is a place that you might want to look and this is the time that you might want to look. It didn’t really have a protocol that we could use to standardize the effort between volunteers. So right now there will be two protocols starting this season, one of them will be a boat meander survey and one will be a shoreline or public access protocol, so if you don’t have a boat you can still use that, and this will be applicable to all species, it will not be species-specific. As far as AIS monitoring taking too much time, something that we thought of this year is “why not explore the idea of one big AIS monitoring event. The River Alliance of Wisconsin has done this for a few years with bridges on stream crossings and they’ve had great success getting participants to help with that effort so we’re going to expand that to not only bridge crossings but also boat landings and public access points this year and we’re partnering with Minnesota as well so Eleanor who will talk later is partnering with us to do the same thing in Minnesota on the same day, so it will be August 5th, and it will be rivers and lakes in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. So we’re excited to see how that goes and this will be using the new shoreline protocol from the manual. Another potential obstacle we saw is that in the Citizen Lake Monitoring Network here in Wisconsin we have covered the costs of pretty much every kind of volunteer monitoring (sorry that’s my phone ringing in the background) the only thing that we haven’t covered is AIS monitoring, so maybe we could eliminate that cost, if the cost itself is an obstacle to doing that type of monitoring. So we plan to be able to provide all the essential equipment and the training for free starting in 2017. The only exception will be that optional manual, which may still have a cost to it. It will be available for free online, but if someone wanted a hard copy there may be a fee associated with that. So this season, the hands-on workshop will be provided at no cost and either the local AIS coordinator or CLMN staff would handle that training and that’s typically a two to three-hour time block. We will provide Early Detector handbooks, some basic equipment like ziplock bags and waterproof labels to collect any suspicious specimens and then a ruler, a pencil and a hand lens to aid in identification. So that’s it for me and I think I’m a little bit over time, but I, like Aaron, will be happy to entertain questions at the end. Great, thank you Paul and Erin and now we will move on to Jo Latimore and as Paul said we’ll take questions in the second half of our webinar please, folks are already putting questions in the in the chat box so please for the rest of our participants feel free to do the same and Jo Latimore again is from Michigan State University and Michigan State University Extension and she works also with Michigan Lakes and Streams Associations to promote understanding and stewardship of aquatic resources and aquatic invasive species, so thanks Jo and take it away. Thanks Rebecca I’m excited to share some of the lessons that we’ve learned in Michigan as we developed and expanded our, what we call our “exotic aquatic plant watch” which is our volunteer program for monitoring for aquatic invasive plants and first I want to acknowledge my colleague and co-author Angela De Palma-Dow who I think is on the call today She and I have worked over the last several years to expand this really important program for our state and with the help of a new extension educator Erick Elgin, who I think is also on the line and also comment that in Michigan we’ve definitely taken inspiration from our colleagues in other Great Lakes states, particularly Wisconsin, you’ll see some similarities between the programs and we’ve even adopted a Clean Boats, Clean Waters program and I know my colleague Beth Clawson with MSU Extension who leads up our Clean Boats, Clean Waters program here in Michigan is also on the line. We work with a lot of organizations to conduct our volunteer lake monitoring program in Michigan and it’s headed up by our Department of Environmental Quality and we’ve been fortunate enough to have great partners there at the state level, and were able to access some funds from selling some really cool “protect your waters” Michigan license plates to help fund our ability to expand this program. So the need, we’ve covered this already, that invasive plants are causing a lot of unwanted damage to our inland waters and we know that catching them early is the best way to get ahead of them and before they’re able to spread and cause serious ecological and economic damage and we also knew that our volunteers with our program, we’ve been doing lake monitoring in Michigan with volunteers since 1974 and we knew that they were very interested and concerned about invasive plants in their inland lakes and so we wanted to respond to that need. So we initially launched a pilot version of this invasive species program in 2007 and we spent a few years in pilot mode and part of that reason was that we had a lot of people coming to training, they learn how to do other water quality parameters and then they come to our invasive plant identification training and learn them. There’s a lot of curiosity and learning about what these invasive plants look like. But when it comes to actually signing up for doing some surveys and monitoring we were getting really low response, to give you an example in 2007 we had about 230 lakes monitoring water quality and only two signed up to actually do the exotic aquatic plant watch, so we knew we had a uphill battle as far as getting more lakes involved I’ll spend a minute showing you the protocol which hasn’t changed over time. We basically asked our volunteers to tour around the lake in their boats and use rake tosses, throwing a rake head attached to a rope, dragged along the bottom of the lake to look for and collect plants and look for particular aquatic invasive species. We definitely had them highlight boating access points inlets, little streams coming into the lake, beaches and parks, places where the risk of introduction of new invasive plants is the highest. And we had them focus on a limited number of species we started out with a Eurasian water milfoil curly-leaf pondweed, both of which were already fairly prevalent in Michigan’s inland lakes, especially in the southern part of the state, and also hydrilla which to this day has not yet been found in Michigan but it’s certainly a species of of concern- kind of a super weed. And more recently we added starry stonewort a plant that we’re having a lot of trouble with here in Michigan and has been spreading throughout the Great Lakes region. So we weren’t trying to overwhelm our lakes volunteers with too many species to look at and that didn’t seem to be one of the issues. What our real issues were, as I mentioned before, low enrollment. When we finally launched the program to be a full part of our monitoring program which was in 2011, we were up to 26 lakes out of the 221 lakes overall that were volunteering. So we had twelve percent enrollment, but we still wanted to see that grow higher and another challenge was that of those lakes that were enrolled only a small portion less than forty percent actually followed through and reported their results, actually conducted a survey and reported it so that was another challenge we faced, so we wanted to go and find out what’s going on, what insight could we get. So we took a number of approaches, we did paper surveys of our volunteers, we went out on lakes with our volunteers, out on the boat with them, so we could provide some additional training but also so we could discuss challenges that they were facing We could observe them in action to see what they seemed to be struggling with, if anything, and we also did a national review using phone interviews of invasive species volunteer monitoring programs. So what did we learn? Well we learned that people were aware of the program but much like Wisconsin, what Paul told us about just a minute ago, a lot of our volunteers didn’t see the value of it they may have already hired a professional lake management company to manage invasive species, or they didn’t feel confident, they didn’t feel confident they could correctly identify the species, they didn’t feel confident they could find the time to actually go out and survey. So we addressed those issues, in things like a new brochure about the program, doing blog posts on our website, we even put together recently a YouTube video that talks about the value of doing this monitoring and gives an overview of identifying those important species. We made lake visits, we sent staff out, typically ourselves, out onto these lakes to work with the volunteers to provide them, especially on lakes that were new to the program, to provide them some hands-on experience and build that confidence that they really can identify these plants and feel confident promoting and reporting what they were finding. We improved the identification support for materials as well. On the left you can see an example of a photography sheet that we made, very simple laminated sheet with a scale on one side so people could take photos, digital photos, of the plants they saw, they could send them to us, often digitally often right from the boat on their smartphone and we could respond to them with identification help. We also produced through MSU Extension an identification guide to selective invasive plants that became an invaluable resource for our volunteers. Something we noticed is that a lot of our volunteers, if they didn’t find any invasive species, they didn’t report at all. They didn’t let us know they didn’t find anything, and that’s really important if there’s no invasives in your lake that’s important news so we added a place, just a very simple thing, we added a box on the data form asking them to report check this box if you didn’t find anything, and that was really important and actually increased our reporting rate quite a bit. Then finally we’ve really been supporting teamwork. A lot of people, a lot of our volunteers initially were trying to do this on their own. Not only is that a safety concern but it’s also a lot of work, to go out, drive the boat around, rake, look for plants, feel confident you’re identifying them correctly, so we added training on building teamwork, finding people in your community that might want to help out and that you could compare your answers “okay do you think this is Eurasian milfoil? I’m not sure.” That has definitely contributed and we see a lot more teams of people doing these surveys than one or even two people anymore. So what were our outcomes from these changes that we’ve put into place over the last three or four years? First of all we have seen some increase modest increase in enrollment, you can see 2011 is the first year on this chart the dark blue bars are showing you the total enrollment for each individual year. The more silvery paler bars are showing that accumulation of new lakes to the program, because every year we have some lakes that do this every year but we also have lakes that have never done it before and so we continue to add new lakes every year which we’re really excited about. Some lakes may take a break take a year or two off and come back into the program again. So we’re happy to see that continue to grow, so overall since 2011 we’re about 78 new lakes that have enrolled in this program and reported data which is great. And maybe the best result, or the result that gets me most excited is what you can see on the second chart and I promise this is my last data chart, what we’re looking at here is again the number of lakes enrolled each year is the total height of each bar and then that percentage that you see is the percentage of all the lakes that have signed up, how many of them actually reported data. Back in 2011 it was less than half so we were really concerned about that. We were training these people, people were signing up, committing to doing it and then not doing it and there’s always going to be some volunteers that have “life happens” and they’re not gonna be able to do it, but we wanted to get higher than that, we were aiming for something higher than fifty percent for sure. So with this additional support we really think these lake visits, where we go out in the field with the new volunteers and give them some hands-on training and experience and confidence building has really made a difference. And as of 2015 we were up to 79 percent of the enrolled lakes were actually reporting something to us which is great, that the quality of the data is incredibly valuable and we’re looking at we’re still tallying the data from this past season, but it’s looking like we’ll be maybe a little bit lower than last year but still above seventy percent which we are really pleased about that. So what’s next, for future directions, we will be working with programmers to incorporate our volunteer program directly into the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network, or MISIN which is an app-based program web-based program where data can be entered right away, rather than us waiting to get data forms back at the end of the season. Early detection doesn’t work well if you’re waiting months to get the results from your volunteers. And then also we wanted to emphasize monitoring on lakes that have not been invaded yet, a lot of those are in northern Michigan, we want to make sure that those lakes that are still in the protection phase are out there and detecting things early. So that will wrap up my presentation about what we’re doing, I’ve got a slide there showing some contact information, but of course I’ll welcome questions from the chat box at the end. Excellent Jo thank you so much. Right on time! Ok let’s move on to Eleanor and thanks all so much for all these great questions that are coming into the chat. We are keeping track of them for after we hear from Eleanor, so Eleanor Burkett, University of Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Program Extension educator. And she’s done a lot of work with the University of Minnesota over the years, this is her most recent endeavor, so tell us about what you’re doing in Minnesota Eleanor. Thank you, Rebecca. So yes I’m working on developing an aquatic invasive species detecting program and I want to acknowledge people with that as well, I want to acknowledge Megan Weber who’s an extension educator, Dan Larkin who’s an extension specialist, and Faye Sleeper the program leader, who are kind of the core team, who are developing that as well as MAISRC staff, the Minnesota aquatic invasive species Research Center staff, particularly Christine Lee, Becca Nash Sue Galatowitsch and Nick Phelps, who have all been working with this program and supporting it. So, excuse me, we’re developing a program in Minnesota we’re just getting started so I’m not going to be having data to show like Paul and Jo have, but I’ve been learning from them and it’s been great being part of this network because we’ve been sharing information which has been really helpful in starting a new program. So this is using citizen science to advance AIS response in Minnesota and what we’re doing is we’re training observers to respond, detect and report aquatic invasive species in Minnesota and I’ll show you some of the tools we’re doing for that.
So basically it’s kind of similar where we’re developing a network of trained citizens, we’re doing it maybe a little bit differently than some of the other folks are. We’re offering a core course that has an online training so people were using the Moodle system of training. So people can take that training on their own time and in the comfort of their home, and we have a lot of people in Minnesota who go other places for the winter, so they could be taking the training wherever they are or if they have a home in the cities and their cabin is up north or something they can be taking the online training anywhere. That’s going to take about six to eight hours for people to take, plus we have an in-person workshop and so once they’ve completed the online training, they can attend the in-person workshop which is really going to focus and hone in on advancing people skills in identification as well as using the tools for reporting and we even have some pieces in developing communication skills for working with the public. We also have opportunities for Advanced Learning so we’re going to be having Lake survey training and other advanced courses for people to take, as well as annual refreshers and it is required that certified aquatic invasive species detectors do take annual training and educational hours of up to eight hours per year. So, they’re going to respond to aquatic invasive species sightings. In Minnesota we’ve, the Department of Natural Resources has a new reporting app using the EDDMapS Midwestern GLEDN app, Great Lakes Early Detection Network and so people can report through that and AIS detectors may be responding to that helping the DNR to weed out false positives so that they can be focusing on responding to detection and new detections. AIS detectives will also conduct new detection surveys and that’s kind of like in, somewhat like what Paul talked about with the BioBlitz that he talked about in August, that would be somewhat like a new detection survey so they’d be able to participate in that as well and we’ll be looking throughout the state of Minnesota for aquatic invasive species all in one day and then they can assist with other aquatic invasive species outreach and research projects with the DNR and the Minnesota aquatic invasive species research center and they might be staffing booths or other things they could be doing is talking with their neighbors or giving programs on aquatic invasive species. So the target species that we’re going to focus on will have three plants: Eurasian water-milfoil, hydrilla and starry stonewort. We do not have hydrilla in the state of Minnesota yet but it is one we have high concern of, so we’re going to be teaching people to be on the watch for that, and starry stonewort is a fairly new detection in our state, two years ago it was first detected, in one lake, and then in 2016 we found it in seven more lakes in a very short period of time, so we think that there’s probably more starry stonewort out there, so we’re going to be on the lookout for that. We’re also training people for looking for invertebrates including spiny waterflea, rusty crayfish, zebra and quagga mussels and we have a specific training for that. And fish include silver carp, bighead carp, ruffe and round goby. So our training will be focusing on these species and their look-alikes and helping people to distinguish with that. In the training materials they will be receiving an aquatic invasive species manual plus an AIS detector ID guidebook that they can take out in the field with them, it’ll be made of waterproof paper. So again they need to complete the core course and we have a competency exam on the materials, it’s an open book exam and people are required to complete that, or pass that for up to 70 percent correct. We’re also going to have a requirement of 25 hours of volunteer time annually is going to be required and it can be achieved through doing those activities I spoke of earlier, from doing detection work, lake surveys and outreach. Also as I mentioned before we’ll have eight hours of refresher or advanced training required annually and that’s to help keep people up to date. Let’s see here, I’ve forgotten how to advance it. So some of the new skills they’re going to be learning in the courses that will have some general aquatic ecology and so that they can understand the plant ecology for plants and the critters that we’ll be looking at, as well as talking about the aquatic invasive species in Minnesota and what we’re concerned about and why we chose the plants and species we chose, and then again it will be focusing greatly on the identification of aquatic invasive species and their look-alikes, we have a unit on rules and regulations, which includes rules that they will follow as volunteers, and also then information on reporting aquatic invasive species. So some of the new skills that they’ll learn in the advanced training will be aquatic invasive species on the water, we’ll have AIS biology and habitat issues, emerging AIS threats, so other species of concern that are not currently in Minnesota and then the new detection survey. So we are developing that as we’re developing new lake detection survey protocols. So I mentioned before that we’ll be using the EDDMapS Midwest or the GLEDN app, Great Lakes Early Detection Network, as found here. So even when they sign up as they sign up, they’ll be able to click on whether or not they’re an AIS detector when they’re building their profile in this which is really neat. They’ll be making reports or following up reports and working closely with the Department of Natural Resources as well as bringing samples to the DNR aquatic invasive species specialists. So the benefits in Minnesota that we have about twelve thousand lakes in Minnesota that are 10 acres or more, and over 6,500 rivers and streams and 10.6 million acres of wetlands and over 13 billion acres of surface water and in the state we have 13 DNR AIS specialists, so that’s a lot of land for them to cover. So this will be helping them in especially weeding out the false-negatives, and helping with doing the early detections. The funding is through the Minnesota Environmental Trust Fund, and I just put some, for more information this is our new website that we’re just getting ready to go and we’ll be opening soon for registration for the online classes, our goal is to start the online courses in March and then we’ll be teaching the six in-person workshops starting in April so it’s a pretty ambitious schedule for the year but we’re hoping to be able to get a lot of people on board and work hard to retain volunteers and hopefully we can help provide support and keep them going. So you may contact me if you have more questions. Excellent, Eleanor thank you so much, really exciting to see the program getting up and running in Minnesota. Let’s go back and start addressing some of the great questions that we have in the chat box and remember if you also have questions that you haven’t yet submitted please go ahead and do so. Lois Wilson had a question for Erin: “how do you determine which lakes to visit for the watercraft inspections?” Hi Lois, thanks for the question well, one of the things I have advised the citizens who are already interested in doing inspections is to visit their high-traffic landings and lakes that have one or more aquatic invasive species are the ones we like to focus on. However the majority of our data is collected by citizens and so that means wherever they live and wherever they want to collect data, that’s where it’s collected. Most of them are funded by Department of Natural Resources aquatic invasive species grants, and so they’re doing this work with help and funding from the grant. For our data that’s collected by our staff around the state, our boat landings are randomly selected, since it’s a stratified random sample so within a certain region of the state we divided it up into I think 11 different regions and we randomly select a boat landing for them to collect data at. So in our program, the majority of our inspections are focused on just engaging and educating citizens about prevention. We don’t so much strategically pick where inspections take place, we rely more on where citizens live and where they want to inspect. Great thanks Erin and then Brooke who looks like she’s in Ontario cuz she says Ontario’s colder than Minnesota, Brooke asks Erin she said “you may have touched on this but how do you go about recruiting volunteers for Clean Boats, Clean Waters?” Yeah, I did not touch on it, I was trying to rush through my information. Yeah great question, this is another sorta unique situation for us in Wisconsin, we’re very fortunate to have a lot of eager citizens and so we don’t always have to do a lot of recruiting, to find our Clean Boats, Clean Waters inspectors because most of them are funded through grant projects. In certain counties we’re lucky to have some regional and county-based AIS staff, we call them our AIS county coordinators, and so a lot of times that there’s specific lakes or if they need some more activity, Clean Boats, Clean Waters will send out press releases, they’ll offer advertise the training and just maybe do an education session first about what is Clean Boats before they try to offer a training. So a lot of the recruitment that does take place happens on a local level, and in a lot of cases, in certain locations of the state, we’re just trying to keep up with the demand for the trainings that arise because of the grants that are awarded. Tough problem to have! Right?! And maybe this relates to a question that I had for Paul, you talked about now you’re trying to provide the equipment and training for free. How are you able to do that, provide equipment and training for free? Who’s paying? The citizen lake monitoring network is supported by the DNR so the costs for our water chemistry analyses, and all the equipment that we provide for the various monitoring everything is covered by a DNR contract so we do have a limited amount of funds we just have to be efficient enough to prioritize what we’re going to be providing to the citizens. Excellent, thank you and Janice has a question also for Paul: “did you consider the development of an app instead of a printed book for training materials?” We did, something that we hear often from our volunteers is that they they don’t have a lot of technology, many of them are in northern Wisconsin where they may not have internet. We hear from some of the volunteers that they don’t even have a computer, that they don’t have smartphones, so we didn’t want to leave too many people out by creating an electronic format. It’s something that we could still consider in the future as a supplemental material, but I didn’t want to just exclusively do an app. Great thank you Paul, and Lois has a question for Jo: so in addition to the rough duty of getting out in your boat to look for aquatic invasive species, Lois asks “do you think some kind of friendly competition between lakes making it more fun for reporting would help increase participation?” I like that idea, I think that there is some value to it. I know that our volunteers do like some kind of incentive or reward of some kind and be known as a lake that follows through and does the work, could be one kind of encouragement for volunteers to engage. I know in our water quality monitoring we have a drawing every year for those who enter their own data into the online database rather than waiting for staff and our program to do it, they get entered into a drawing for a free enrollment in that parameter for the next year, because we actually do charge a nominal fee for each one and that really increased the number of lakes that entered their own data so having a competition and especially once we start offering the kind of instant data entry through our MISIN webapp people could see more in real time which lakes had already reported some results, even if it was “I didn’t find any invasives” and so they could see kind of where they are ranking as far as getting the work done compared to some of the other lakes. So yeah I’ll definitely, I’ll think about that a little bit more. And Jo, Tim is commenting on the digital identification help, he doesn’t have a particular question but is there anything more you want to say right now about how this is done that you think might help your colleagues listening today? Sure, so beyond actually engaging digital photography into this, it’s a fairly low tech process at this point. Basically in their procedures the volunteers have our email addresses and if they find a plant that they’re not sure of or just want a second opinion on, they have these laminated sheets on the boat with them and they can shoot us photos over email and we can respond to them and what we see and so there has been cases where a volunteer is out in the lake and we just happened to be by our email and we can respond while they’re still out in the field. Now, again working with more of an online interface for the program, we may be able to automate that a little bit more and have just one place where people could upload photos and ask for confirmation, maybe something more like an iNaturalist app or something like that where the person who submits information could ask the community for help in confirming or denying their identification. Excellent. I had a question for all presenters in a number of different areas across the North Central Region Water Network and then training related to agriculture, training related to natural resources, we have these conversations about online training versus face-to-face or in person in the field training. I’m just wondering if any of you wanted to comment on the use of online training as a component to complement the in-person training that you’re doing or how those things, how you see those things fitting together. So one of the things that we’ve done here in Wisconsin in response to the relatively new starry stonewort infestation in Wisconsin when it showed up in 2014, we quickly made an identification video for starry stonewort, to compare it to various native species that look similar to it. And this would be something that could be shown at town hall meetings, which were going on, there were a lot of local meetings going on in response to this. That’s something that we thought would be very useful. We also are exploring the idea of using other YouTube videos or possibly extension’s WiscModel for online programming, so we may have some sort of online instructional program as well. This is Erin, just to add on to it, Paul said for Wisconsin, for Clean Boats Clean Waters training we already have some online videos, that show different scenarios, of an inspector talking to a boater or angler about a certain situation and the prevention steps. We found that to be, at least I’ve heard from citizens they find that to be pretty useful as a supplement to the training. There’s a lot more that we could do to offer more online training opportunities for Clean Boats. Here in Michigan I would comment that we started with all in-person training primarily because when the program started the technology hadn’t really caught up to us, but now it has and our volunteers’ access to that technology is getting much much better and their comfort level with it is becoming much much better. We’re still requiring face-to-face training but we are supplementing that with videos with online kind of refreshers and that kind of thing, I have some concerns regarding only doing online training for invasive species plant identification, just because of what we have seen with our volunteers, even when they do a classroom training it’s different than being out in the field actually touching the fresh plants and pulling it up out of the water and so when we go out there in the field with them, that’s where we really see the confidence and comfort level shoot way up. I can see, definitely helps to have something that they can go and watch on their own time to kind of remind themselves of the differences between the different plants and so forth but just our experience working with volunteers, there’s really no substitute for that field based training. Yeah I’ll echo that for my volunteers as well, that they really, they like fact sheets and videos and things like that but they say there is no substitute for you coming out to our lake and actually showing us what we have. That’s the most valuable thing for them. Yeah I can echo that too and I think many of us might remember what it was like to take that plant ID class in college and then when you get out there in the field you’re looking at it and thinking “oh my god it looks nothing like it did in the classroom” so I think the field and hands-on workshops are required as well. Great thank you and I noticed I think Dani just left the room but oh I’m sorry there’s one more question before that. Lois asked about EDDMapS and MISIN Is there any chance that EDDMapS and MISIN can get together and merge their data? I can comment on that, there’s a chance but from my understanding and this conversation has happened over and over and there’s other databases as well and it would be beautiful if they could all kind of become one. A lot of state and regional programs are using the EDDMapS platform which is great. Here in Michigan we made the decision that MISIN will be the database of choice for invasive species information and those two programs don’t talk really well to one another and so you know there will be a need for some technology work to get them to talk to one another and bring that data together, and some of that is being done but I think it’s still kind of in the trial phases, so that would be an ideal future scenario in my opinion. Nice to have, would be nice to have. Ok for Danny’s question now “are the boats treated?” I assume he’s talking about the boats that do these inspections for aquatic invasive species, are the boats treated once you leave the lake after an inspection? If not, the very inspectors might be starting the problem because they’re going to so many lakes, so any thoughts for our presenters about that observation? Hi this is Erin, I’m just reading this question to make sure I understand. Our inspectors stand on the boat landing, so ideally they would not be able to be transporting any aquatic invasive species they won’t have boats or trailers or things but even so monitoring that might be a good question with the folks we have in the Department of Natural Resources that do routine lake monitoring on maybe more than one lake during a day and they do have through the Department of Natural Resources staff and our AIS staff, there’s decontamination lists to follow and prevention steps that they do take, but for just our inspectors, who are talking to citizens who are boating and angling on boats are not all treated before leaving the lake. They’re asked to drain all their water and there are a few boat wash stations but not very many that we have here in Wisconsin. Other states any comment? I can just quickly comment, again trying to interpret the question a little bit if they’re concerned about the volunteer monitors that may be spreading species from one lake to another, if they’re out there surveying in one spot or another what I find is that, two things, first of all when we do our training we do talk about that with our volunteers, but in most cases at least in Michigan our volunteers are lakefront property owners on the lake that they’re surveying and so their boat is in its home lake when they’re out there doing the work and they’re not moving from one lake to another, they’re focusing on the lake that they live on As far as Minnesota goes, in our training we’re having some education on cleanup of tools and things that people are using and what they should be doing and how they should be doing that and a lot of our people may not be going out on boats and that isn’t the thing we’re stressing because we’re approaching it a little differently I think than the other states. When they’re doing lake inspections and things though, then yeah they will be going out on boats and we’ll have to be addressing that in our protocols. We have boat, and we have guidelines in Minnesota as well as boat inspectors on many lakes too. Great thanks Eleanor and I’ll just, Angela has a comment about the databases there about Glancis potentially combining both MISIN and EDDMapS data. I’m gonna let our presenters comment on that in the chat box if they would like to because I’m going to move to the end of our webinar here. So thank you all for participating and thanks to our presenters, got a lot of great information out in a short period of time and contact information for all of them I think for you to be able to contact them after this webinar if you would like more information from any of them. This webinar, you’ll be able to access this webinar in a week or so on the website or so feel free to share it with folks if you know people that might be interested in the information. Our next webinar is about effective science communication and we’ve got another couple great presenters, they’re gonna have a little bit longer presentation time 15 minutes or so each, Kristin Runge from the University of Wisconsin-Extension who’s done a lot of work on communication framing and science communication in behavior change, and Michael Dahlstrom from Iowa State University who has also done a lot of work on science communication and the use of narrative and storytelling and science communication. So another two great presentations to look forward to in February. Thank you very much for joining and we look forward to hearing you participate in future webinars. Have a good afternoon everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *