On October 28, 2009, the State of Wisconsin enacted legislation that prohibits the transport of water or plants from one body of water to another on your boat, boat trailer, vehicle, or other gear. For kayakers that means that you need to make sure that you clean all water, mud, and weeds from the inside and outside of your kayak, paddle, and other gear when traveling between different lakes and rivers.
I’ve been doing some kayaking programs for the Brookfield Parks and Rec Department at Foxbrook Park. Those of you who are Brookfield and Waukesha residents may be aware that launching your kayak in Foxbrook Park lake is not allowed. The reason that kayaks and other boats are prohibited is not a matter of liability, it is an attempt to prevent the spread of non-native invasive species of plants and animals into the lake. I have to make sure that my boats are spotlessly clean before doing programs at Foxbrook Park.
In the last decade, zebra mussels have been introduced into just about all the inland lakes of southeast Wisconsin. I don’t know that you can pin the blame for that fact on kayakers, but I don’t know that we can be completely eliminated from suspicion, either. Many of us, myself included, have paddled on Lake Michigan and then traveled to an inland lake for some practice a day or two later. Any water that may have been sloshing around in the bilge of our cockpits could potentially harbor the tiny progeny of a dreaded invasive species. Zebra mussels may have gotten a lot of press, but we could also be harboring pieces of the obnoxious algae that seems to be proliferating in every lake.
Hopefully, we would all take the time to empty and sponge out the water and mud in our kayaks before taking them somewhere else. From now on, we are required by law to do so.