|Area rental businesses need more AIS training|
This past July, my husband and I wanted to rent a personal watercraft to use while our family was here on vacation. I have been coming to Eagle River as a summer resident since I was born 35 years ago. I was saddened by the sequence of events which followed our initial personal watercraft inquiry.Let me explain. Even though we are only summer residents in Eagle River, my family has always placed environmental concerns and local issues as very important. We summer on a lake which is thus far lucky (and I mean, simply lucky, after learning about the laws enforcing the spread of invasive species) to have avoided such unwanted flora and fauna. However, we are keenly aware of the aquatic invasive species (AIS) and their mode of transportation, hence, why I got a sickening feeling upon inquiring at the local personal watercraft rental stores about their methods of preventing the spread of such invasive species within their business practices.
We first stopped at one rental business. We received prices and information on personal watercraft rentals on a paper pamphlet. I then further inquired as to how the machines were cleaned between uses. A man proceeded to tell me that they are not cleaned. I asked if I would be instructed on how to do the cleaning myself. No. I explained how we intended to use the rental on a lake without invasive species and wished to keep the lake this way. I was advised to simply use the rentals on the chain of lakes where the species of concern were already present.
Obviously displeased with what I was told, we proceeded to stop at another rental business. When asked about the cleaning of their machines, I was told that the exterior is hosed off between uses. This was refreshing to hear, but not exactly entirely effective.
Shocked by what I learned, I made a phone call to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR officer who returned my call was incredibly kind and patient with all my questions. I learned that the current law is designed to be what can be enforced, very minimal to say the least. Only visible weeds in transport can be ticketed. He also confirmed that the invasive species of concern, animals in various stages of their life cycles and the roots of weeds, can be transported while invisible to the naked eye.
I think that the citizens of Eagle River should demand that the local businesses be held to a higher standard than the minimal and, in my opinion, ineffective law. The business owners should take pride in the natural resources they are using to make a living.
I offer the following suggestion. Every renter of a recreational vehicle should receive educational materials on these species and their mode of transportation. The renter should then sign a document stating thorough understanding of how to prevent the spread, including how to clean the machine themselves. This works two fold. This educates and prevents.
|Tuesday, September 24, 2013 5:15 PM|