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By the numbers: On guard against aquatic invasive species

As part of National Invasive Species Awareness Week, today’s MI Environment edition is highlighting EGLE’s work on battling aquatic invasive species in Michigan.

Hydrilla stalk that can spread easily and quickly in lakes, ponds, and streams. Courtesy of Univ. of Connecticut,

Hydrilla stalk that can spread easily and quickly in lakes, ponds, and streams. Courtesy of Univ. of Connecticut,


The fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Michigan knows no end.

A reminder came in October 2023, when the state announced it was battling one of the world’s most invasive aquatic plants, hydrilla, for the first time. A response plan will focus on preventing the plant’s spread from two West Michigan ponds and eradicating it in the long run.  

And while no live bighead, silver, or black carp have yet been found in the Great Lakes, these invasive fish would likely thrive here. Michigan is answering the threat with $64 million dedicated to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Brandon Road Interbasin Project to build a fish barrier near Joliet, Illinois.

Over the past year, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) kept up anti-AIS efforts through grants, educational webinars, mobile boat-washing stations, and more.

The Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters collaboration between EGLE and the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension awarded approximately $31,000 to lake associations, paddling groups, conservation districts, nonprofit organizations, and others for 13 projects focused on preventing the introduction and spread of AIS via recreational boating.

Local partners such as lake associations and Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas hosted outreach events at more than 70 boating access sites throughout Michigan as part of Michigan’s AIS Landing Blitz during AIS Awareness Week in June and July.

EGLE and partners distributed more than 20,000 pieces of AIS outreach materials such as towels, key floats, signs, rack cards, and brochures throughout Michigan.

EGLE hosted 10 NotMISpecies Invasive Species Webinars in 2023, and two so far in 2024. The presentations – focused on how agencies, universities, and local organizations work together to protect Michigan’s natural resources from invasive species – garner an average of more than 200 live viewers each and thousands of additional views of recordings.

Responses are underway at 16 locations across Michigan to eradicate aquatic invasive plants that are on Michigan’s invasive species watch list. Actions include herbicide, hand pulling, surveying populations, and post-treatment monitoring. Six of these sites are nearing eradication with no regrowth being observed for at least one growing season. Sites are deemed eradicated after three years of monitoring.

Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters’ mobile boat wash program, an EGLE collaboration the MSU Extension and U.S. Forest Service, used two mobile boat washers at 42 events in 2023 to wash 175 watercraft and provide in-person messaging to more than 500 boaters to prevent the spread of AIS.

The Michigan Invasive Species Program, cooperatively implemented by EGLE and the Michigan departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development, relies on reports from the public to help in early detection and response efforts. Learn more on the invasive species watch list website