A big part of our effort to combat the spread of milfoil in our lake takes place away from the water. Public education about our milfoil problem, and about invasive species in general, is an important complement to our eradication strategies in the lake.
Educating the public about milfoil and its threat to our lake’s ecology and economy serves several purposes. First, it alerts boaters and others about how their choices can make them part of the problem or part of the solution. Milfoil and other invasive species are believed to spread from lake to lake on the unwashed bottoms of boats or trailers, in their bilges, or inside the water cooling channels of their motors. Second, it engages lake residents, lake users, and community members to the possible economic harm to the region if milfoil were to take over the lake, as it will if unchecked. This will encourage them to support our effort by volunteering, by making a gift, or just by spreading the word.
This year we are trying two new ways of reaching the public. The first was a “float” in the fourth of July parade in Fairlee. We decorated a pickup truck with our banner and diving gear, and announced our arrival with upbeat music (Yellow Submarine!). Our entire dive team marched behind, with a few volunteers, handing out fliers.
Our presentation was well received. Some viewers were at first confused by our message. What was Jane carrying in her hand? Seaweed? No, a handful of milfoil. It got their attention, though, and invited further questions. Once they understood, they were very supportive. We received cheers and applause, without throwing a single piece of candy! Here are more pictures of us in the parade.
Another initiative we hope to be starting this summer is to have a presence at the boat ramp. We plan to have a volunteer present at the boat ramp Saturday mornings and afternoons, speaking to boaters and answering their questions about milfoil. This program is still being developed. If you want to volunteer or have other suggestions please email.
Finally, our slogan. We were looking for something catchy to put on our parade “float.” The banner below is what we came up with. We are always looking for other ideas for this year or next, so don’t be shy!