Protect our Lakes: Clean, Drain, Dry Boats

Protect our Lakes: Clean, Drain, Dry Boats


Michiganders love to play on the water during the summer time. Be it on the Big Lake, one of our many rivers, or a pristine inland lake, boating and fishing are a favorite way to spend those sunny summer days. But when heading out, or heading home, it’s important to remember a quick three step process to keep our lakes clean.

Invasive plants and animals, like Eurasian watermilfoil or zebra mussels, can hitch a ride from one lake to the next on boats, paddles, rods, and toys. These invaders can quickly grow in lakes, pushing out native species, hurting fish habitat, and sometimes even making the area unusable to people, lowering property values. Many of these invasive plants can reproduce from broken pieces of the leaves or stems, meaning even a broken piece on a boat propeller could create a new invasion. In order to keep them off your boat and out of our lakes remember: Clean, Drain, Dry!
Clean: Clean off any visible plant parts at the launch, and dispose of them in the trash or upland of the launch. It’s illegal in Michigan to transport any plants on your boats! If available, use a boat wash at the area to power wash what you can off of your boat and other gear. This goes for kayaks, canoes, and waders, too! When you get home, it’s best to either take a boat through a car wash, or wash it in the driveway before heading to your next destination. 
Drain: Drain all live wells and bilges before heading out. Fish diseases and young mussels can both lurk in water undetected and be moved to a new body along with the boat. Again, this goes for small, motor-less watercraft too. Never transport water with your boat!

Dry: The best bet is to let a boat dry for 5 days before moving it to another lake. This is because the microscopic young of invasive mussels can live in a single drop of water as long as it stays wet. Always make sure that boats, and trailers, have been dried completely before launching, including hard to reach places.


All of these steps apply to anglers and their gear as well, but it also important to remember to correctly dump bait. Always dispose of bait in trash cans, or take it home for the next trip out. Dumping bait over the side of the boat or on the land can introduce new fish, crayfish, and worm species that aren’t native and can do a number on food webs in Michigan. When picking waders, hard bottoms, rather than felt, are better to keep snails and other invaders from following you into the river.

When playing in Michigan’s waters, we need to be responsible stewards of the lands we love. Doing our best to stop the spread of invasive species can be easy by following the Clean, Drain, Dry procedure! Want to learn more? Join the SWxSW Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) for free Landing Blitz and Boat Wash events throughout the summer. 
June 30th, 2018: Paw Paw Lake West Launch Landing Blitz, Coloma

June 30th, 2018: Harmon Park Landing Blitz, Cassopolis

July 7th, 2018: Wolf Lake Visitor Center Landing Blitz, Mattawan

July 13th, 2018: Harmon Park FREE Boat Wash, Cassopolis

August 2nd, 2018: Black River Launch FREE Boat Wash, South Haven
August 3rd, 2018: St. Joseph FREE Boat Wash, St. Joseph
Have questions about protecting our lakes or have an invasive species issue? Contact the SWxSW Corner CISMA at your local conservation district! Call 269-445-8641x5 or email at

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