In January 2022, Sawyer County passed a watercraft decontamination ordinance similar to the one we have in Washburn County. There are now a total of six counties in northwest Wisconsin (Washburn, Burnett, Polk, Bayfield, Barron and Sawyer) with ordinances requiring boaters to use decontamination stations at landings where they exist. Burnett and Washburn Counties were the first, passing their ordinances in early 2018 and helping to set up decontamination stations at selected landings as part of their coordinated response to finding zebra mussels in Big and Middle McKenzie Lakes. As more nearby counties adopt similar ordinances, we expect that more boaters in the area will become aware of the benefits and requirements for decontaminating their boats.
Decontamination measures are particularly beneficial in removing hard-to-see Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)such as zebra mussels (especially the larval stage) spiny waterfleas, and small fragments of invasive plants. Various types of decontamination stations are being set up around the state, but this region is the first to require their use.
Wisconsin law forbids the transport of aquatic species. Before you put your watercraft in a lake or river, or when you take it out of a lake or river, you must carefully remove all plants and animals and drain all water including water in live wells. Many lake associations in Washburn County participate in the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program and provide landing monitors to help boaters take appropriate steps to prevent the spread of AIS.
Washburn County’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) website provides more information about decontamination along with maps and information about the main species of concern in Washburn County.