With the arrival of May, boaters throughout Vermont will be looking ahead to warm days and opportunities to get out on the water. At the same time, public access greeters are getting ready to station themselves at public boat launches across the state. With the ultimate goal of preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), their objectives are to educate boaters about the threat of AIS and help boaters understand the laws regarding AIS transport. These individuals, working collectively in the Public Access Greeter Program, will be contributing to spread prevention efforts statewide as well as protecting Vermont’s aquatic resources for all to enjoy.
The Public Access Greeter Program (started in 2002) is a crucial resource when it comes to aquatic invasive species spread prevention in Vermont. In addition to their role as AIS educators, Public Access Greeters are also responsible for inspecting watercraft for invasive species and offering decontamination services or suggestions when necessary. In 2019, the Greeter Program will operate at approximately 30 public access points offering their services. Last year, Vermont Greeters intercepted 613 watercraft carrying aquatic invasive species and provided 25,495 courtesy watercraft inspections statewide. This Program is invaluable in its ability to protect Vermont waterbodies from new invasive species introductions as well as its ability to inform the public of the status of aquatic invasive species in Vermont.
This year, Public Access Greeter trainings are available on five different occasions (see flyer for dates, times, and locations). At the trainings, prospective and returning Greeters will receive tips for interacting with and educating the public about topics relevant to aquatic invasive species. Greeter trainings will provide opportunities for attendees to get hands-on experience inspecting watercraft and simulate interactions with boaters. In 2017, new legislation was passed regarding aquatic organism transport and boat decontaminations. Upon completion of the training, greeters will understand these regulations and be able to help boaters stay within the law.
A new focus for training this year will be the implementation of digital greeter data submission. In the past, greeters have recorded their interactions with boaters on hand-written datasheets. While this method will still be available, greeters will now have the option to use a new digital data collection application. Instructions on how to download and use the software will be provided at the trainings, as well as data submission options for those who choose to use the hand-written datasheets.
Please consider contributing your time to protecting Vermont’s waterbodies from new aquatic invasive species infestations and attend a Public Access Greeter Program training. If your local waterbody does not have a Greeter Program but would like to start one, reach out to Ryan Colarusso (Ryan.Colarusso@vermont.gov) for information about available assistance.