As soon as the weather warms, Michigan’s lakes and rivers will once again be bustling with paddlers. Kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards continue to be popular ways for residents and visitors to traverse the state’s many waterways in search of tranquility or adventure. Michigan Sea Grant is enlisting those paddlers in a fight to protect the waters they love through the newly created MI Paddle Stewards program.

Through a series of training workshops, paddlers will become allies in the fight against aquatic invasive species. They’ll learn how to detect and report any invasive species they spot while paddling a water trail. They will also learn how to clean their crafts to avoid giving invaders a free ride. These new ecosystem ambassadors will be encouraged to pass their knowledge to other paddlers. Because of this program, at least 300 extra sets of trained eyes and ears will be out there searching for new invaders, aiding in the states ability for early detection and rapid response.