As Memorial Day approaches, the weather remains cold, but it will not stay this way forever. In a couple short months, waterbodies statewide will be bustling with activity. Anglers will search for fish from shore and by boat while others paddle in a languid fashion, soaking in the sun while bobbing on the water. You will even find thrill seekers balancing on water-skis while others battle the force of gravity as their tube attempts to discard them into the cool water. You will also find people stationed at public access boat launches across Vermont, acting as Public Access Greeter Program personnel. These folks are contributing to efforts to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species in Vermont and preserve the ability of others to utilize Vermont’s water resources.
The Public Access Greeter Program (started in 2002) is a crucial resource when it comes to aquatic invasive species spread prevention in Vermont. Public Access Greeters are tasked with interacting with boaters, anglers and other recreators to educate the public about these aquatic invaders. Public Access Greeters are also responsible for inspecting watercraft for invasive species and offering decontamination services or suggestions when necessary. In 2018, the Greeter Program will operate at approximately 30 public access points offering their services. Last year, Vermont Greeters intercepted 517 watercraft carrying aquatic invasive species and provided 23,547 courtesy watercraft inspections statewide. This Program is invaluable in its ability to protect Vermont waterbodies from new invasive species introductions as well as its ability to inform the public of the status of aquatic invasive species in Vermont.
This year, Public Access Greeter trainings are available on five different occasions (see flyer for dates, times, and locations). To be considered an authorized Public Access Greeter Inspection Station in Vermont, a representative from each Greeter Program must have attended at least one training session over the last two years. At the trainings, prospective and returning Greeters will receive tips for interacting with and educating the public about topics relevant to aquatic invasive species. This year, Greeter trainings will provide ample opportunity for attendees to get hands-on experience inspecting and decontaminating watercraft during simulation interactions.
Newly passed legislation related to aquatic invasive species will be discussed at 2018 training events. It is now required that all boaters inspect their own boats on arrival and departure from a waterbody. Boaters must also have their watercraft inspected and decontaminated if deemed necessary by an authorized greeter. Due to this provision, 2018 greeter trainings will focus on inspection and decontamination of watercraft and recreation equipment more than in previous years. New statute regarding removal of standing water and drain plugs, as well as new aquatic invasive species transport laws, will also be discussed at the 2018 Public Access Greeter Program trainings.
Please consider contributing your time to protecting Vermont’s waterbodies from new aquatic invasive species infestations and attend a Public Access Greeter Program training. If your local waterbody does not have a Greeter Program but would like to start one, reach out to Josh Mulhollem (Josh.Mulhollem@vermont.gov) for information about available assistance.
Article contributed by Joe Taft, Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation