If you love any kind of paddle sports in the many waterways our state has to offer, you might as well learn how to help protect them from invasive species.

According to MLive, more people are paddling on lakes and rivers as a way to get some outdoor recreation at a time where social distancing is encouraged due to COVID-19.

Now, MLive, citing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, says those very people can put their entertainment to work "by identifying, reporting and preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species."

A new, online education program called MI Paddle Steward features six sessions people can do at their leisure through December 31st of this year.

The course teaches people how to use the new app called Midwest Invasive Species Information Network which helps recognize, identify and report invasive species. It also teaches ways people who bring things like kayaks to the water how to clean it properly to avoid tracking in other species.

According to MSU Extension's webpage "Aquatic invasive species in Michigan", invasive / "watch list" species include (but are not limited to):

  • Zebra mussels
  • Quagga mussels
  • Sea lamprey
  • Round goby
  • Eurasian ruffe
  • Spiny waterflea
  • Fish hook waterflea

 

If keeping these species out of Michigan waters is as simple as proper washing of watercrafts and gear or a simple course, it should absolutely be worth it!

There is no worry about "getting your money's worth" either because you don't even have to pay for the course. That being said, there is a $20 optional fee that gets you "swag" like a bucket hat, towel, waterproof phone case and a certificate once you finish!

MLive says you can register for the course by going to MichiganSeaGrant.org and clicking on the Educational Programs tab.

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