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GLIN==> Government Agencies and Boaters Prepare to Combat Great Lakes Invaders



GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND BOATERS PREPARE TO COMBAT GREAT LAKES INVADERS
Chicago (July 29, 2008) -- Over 30 representatives of local, state and
federal government agencies and community groups will test their
readiness to respond to aquatic invaders in the Great Lakes in a three
day exercise in Presque Isle Bay, Pa.,  starting July 29.   Participants
will exercise on the water on July 30.  This is the first time that the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office
has brought together a variety of groups in such an exercise.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is hosting the pilot
exercise which may be repeated elsewhere in the Great Lakes and other
watersheds.

"The Great Lakes ecosystem is a priceless natural resource and this
exercise is helping ensure that we are ready to protect it," said Gary
Gulezian, Director of the Great Lakes National Program Office.
"Pennsylvania is demonstrating how all levels of government can work
together to pool their resources and prevent new invaders from becoming
established.  "

Invasive species can cause great ecological and economic harm to the
Great Lakes basin.  Over 180 nonnative aquatic species, such as the
zebra mussel and round goby, have been documented in the Great Lakes.
They are introduced and spread through a variety of means, including by
boaters and anglers visiting infested waterways.  Recreational boaters
and anglers play a critical role in preventing the spread of invasives
by cleaning, draining and drying their boats each time they leave a body
of water.

"These organisms prey upon or directly compete with our native species
for the same limited resources, threatening the biological heritage that
we share as Pennsylvanians," said Lori Boughton, DEP Chief of the Office
of the Great Lakes.  "While preventing new introductions is the single
most important thing that can be done to combat aquatic invasive
species, it also is important to quickly detect and respond to new
infestations.   This week we are improving our preparedness - testing
the abilities of multiple jurisdictions to communicate and respond in a
coordinated fashion."

During the exercise, participants will trawl for fish and practice using
fish electroshocking equipment to prepare for a real-life situation
where these techniques could be used to confirm the presence of an
invasive species.  By working together in an exercise, agencies will
learn ways they can combine assets and overcome jurisdictional barriers
to respond quickly to the introduction of harmful aquatic species.

More information about this project and related initiatives by the Great
Lakes Regional Collaboration can be found at:
http://glrc.us/initiatives/invasives/index.html

More information about invasive aquatic species in the Great Lakes is
available at www.epa.gov/grtlakes/invasive/index.html

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