Beyond Cleaning Your Boat
Cleaning your boat and other recreational equipment between waterway visits will prevent aquatic invasive species from hitching a ride with you and will protect our lakes and streams from harmful invasions. By visiting this site, you have already come a long way toward protecting our waters. Please continue by following our instructions for cleaning your equipment each time you leave the water. You may also want to take the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers Pledge to show your commitment to protecting our waters.
There is much more that you can do to help protect our waterways.
Everyday Actions that Protect Our Waters
Your everyday actions, both on the land and in the water, affect water quality and wildlife habitat. For example, rain that washes over your yard may pick up excess fertilizers and pesticides and carry them into your local water body. When rain washes over driveways, roofs, and streets, it can pick up oil, rubber and other residues. On hot days, these paved surfaces heat up rain runoff that can then enter a waterway and cause elevated water temperatures. Making small changes in our everyday activities, like cleaning up pet waste and using less fertilizer, can go a long way toward protecting our waters. For more information on actions you can take at home, in your community, and on the water to protect waterways, visit Great Lakes Forever.
Monitor and Restore Our Waterways
You can find out more about how clean and healthy your streams and lakes are by monitoring water quality. Monitoring data can be used to identify pollution problems, determine whether pollution regulations are being followed, and gauge whether enhancement efforts are successful.
As you examine your watershed and assess the water quality of its lakes and streams, you might find eroding banks, areas devoid of vegetation, deep and narrow stream channels, wide and shallow channels, or silty lake bottoms. These are some of the characteristics of streams and lakes adjusting to changes in the watershed. It is possible to remedy this degradation, and volunteers can help streams and lakes readjust to the changing landscape.
Click here to get started with monitoring and restoration projects.
Advocate for Better Water Protection
National and local regulations provide an excellent avenue for conserving the country’s watersheds. For example, under the Clean Water Act, factories and other industries that discharge waste into waterways are required to obtain a permit and comply with certain standards. Violators face steep fines or even imprisonment. You can pass new watershed conservation laws, or protect existing laws, by letting your elected officials know the importance of clean, healthy waters. For more information on national watershed policy, advocacy tips, and action alerts on current conservation policy, please visit the Izaak Walton League’s Action Center. This site also provides an easy way to send messages to members of Congress and to keep track of their votes on important conservation issues.
The Izaak Walton League joins Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives in support of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, a comprehensive regional plan that dedicates funding to protect our drinking water, economic future, and way of life. For more information visit Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives.
One of the best ways to get others involved in watershed stewardship is to teach a friend, neighbor, or school group about watershed conservation. Talk to local civic groups and explain the need for their involvement. You can also target a specific audience for your message. For example, work with local landowners to develop land-use strategies for water quality, such as planting buffer strips of vegetation along stream banks. Or, host a watershed festival to raise public awareness. To reach a broad audience, keep the media updated about your project. You can also write letters and op-eds to local newspapers yourself. Suggest a story about your stream or wetland project, and ask the media to cover local events. Explain how the project benefits the local community and that clean water means a safer, healthier, and more aesthetically pleasing environment for everyone. Click here to start educating others.