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Aquatic Invasive Species Response Efforts

image of DEM staff monitoring for invasive species



Since 2007 the Office of Water Resources Surface Water Monitoring Program has conducted surveys of Rhode Island's freshwater rivers and lakes to map the state-wide distribution of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). Monitoring allows DEM personnel to determine which species are present in Rhode Island, where they are and to track their spread. DEM uses this information to prioritize where to direct future monitoring efforts to detect new invasions early, and to inform stakeholders about infestations in their lakes and the surrounding watershed.


AIS Management Plan

DEM coordinated with the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and other partners to form the Rhode Island Aquatic Invasive Species Working Group. The group grew out of the process of developing the Rhode Island AIS management plan, which outlines recommended actions for managing invasives and provides a framework for coordinating State and Federal management efforts. The AIS Working Group, co-chaired by DEM and CRMC, facilitates the implementation of the RI-AIS Management Plan.

The Rhode Island Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan was approved by the Federal Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force in November 2007. Implementation of the plan is subject to availability of congressionally-appropriated funding and associated grants are administered by the CRMC.

Outreach and Education

RIDEM has produced educational materials, including fact sheets, brochures and posters, to inform the general public about aquatic invasive species.

image of AIS educational materials on display


Signs posted at state boat ramps remind lake users to check for invasives and help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Sign posted at boat ramps to reduce spread of AIS


RIDEM has worked with organizations such as URI Watershed Watch, Save the Lakes and the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association to hold public events about invasive species including training on aquatic invasive species identification. Check with these organizations for information on future events.

GREAT Boaters Program

The GREAT (Greeting Recreationalists to Empower And Train) Boaters Program engages volunteers in educating boaters at public boat access points about aquatic invasive species (AIS) to prevent the spread of AIS from lake to lake. RIDEM Office of Water Resources and Division of Fish and Wildlife has partnered with volunteers from Save the Lakes to encourage boaters to practice proper boat hygiene practices, such as the "clean, drain and dry" method, and empowers them to check their boats and remove invasive plants that otherwise would have entered the water body (or been transported out of the water body).

Volunteers at boat ramps also provide a chance to educate boaters on the problem of invasive species, the ways in which they spread, and empower recreationalists to ensure they do not accidentally contribute to this spread by training them to check their boat and trailer.

GREAT Volunteers at work


The Rhode Island GREAT Boaters Program is an effort to staff boat ramps with volunteers to greet boaters and prevent the transport of invasive species by boats, trailers and equipment. The volunteer handbook provides guidance for Boat Greeters on interacting with GREAT boaters, educating people about invasives, and conducting boat checks to remove plants. If you are interested in volunteering at a boat ramp, please contact Save the Lakes.