A new effort is wrapping up its first phase in tackling invasive species in B.C.'s waterways and moving on to the next: asking boaters to participate in an online survey.
Evan Rafuse and Bobby Haskin spent the summer hanging out at docks, talking to boaters about aquatic invasive species and prevention as part of the Invasive Species Council of B.C.'s Clean, Drain, Dry campaign.
By being aware of how the weeds are distributed, boaters in the Kamloops area can help stem their spread.
The council is gathering data about weeds like Eurasian milfoil and didymo, also known as rock snot.
"A lot of invasive species are spread by boat or fishing gear moving from one lake to the next," said Gail Wallin, executive director of the invasive species council.
Eurasian milfoil is the main problem in Shuswap Lake and is also found in Paul and Nicola lakes.
It's a very long plant, said Haskin, and "the main feature is that when it reaches the water level it doesn't stop growing like most native plants do.
"This one actually capsizes and folds over, so you get really dark shaded areas, which blocks out other plants trying to grow. It also creates mats, which are swimming hazards."
The plant has a very long white stem with clusters of deep green leaves with square ends and it can sprout from a very small piece.
In Shuswap Lake, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District has traditionally controlled milfoil using a harvester machine that pulls up the weeds.
However, Haskin said "what that is actually doing is helping the spread. It's just creating greater dispersal of the plant, because it's chewing it up."
"They have no choice but to cut it (though), because people scream and yell at them when (the water) gets clogged," said Rafuse.
The best ways to prevent spread are for boaters to clean their trailers and boats thoroughly, and to drain or flush all systems before moving between areas, Rafuse said.
One thing most long-time boaters aren't aware of, is the importance of dropping the outboard motor to flush out excess water stored in the elbow, as even tiny pieces can grow when released into another body of water.
"That's the second-leading cause of invasive spread," Rafuse said.
Yellow flag iris is another invasive species found in Dutch Lake near Clearwater, Wallin said. It's often planted in water gardens, and then spreads to the edges of lakes and ponds, doing harm to valuable insect and fish habitat.
"One thing we've noted this year that hasn't been noted before is rock snot," said Rafuse. The green or brown goo covers rocks, reducing food for fish and impeding recreation.
"It just smothers everything. We've been finding this in the drainage systems going into (Shuswap) Lake."
The Clean, Drain, Dry program is gathering data on boater's attitudes and behaviours. Boaters are asked to participate in an online survey and will be entered in a draw to win an iPad.
For more information or to take the survey, see www.bcinvasives.ca.