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Visitors to iconic lakes warned to ‘check, clean, dry’

19 December, 2013

Visitors to iconic lakes warned to ‘check, clean, dry’

Biosecurity experts are urging visitors to Northland’s iconic Kai Iwi Lakes to ‘check clean and dry’ their boats and recreational equipment between waterways to avoid spreading unwanted freshwater pests.

Don McKenzie, the Northland Regional Council’s Biosecurity Senior Programme Manager, saysthe popular lakes, northwest of Dargaville, are a priority area for the ‘Check Clean Dry’ campaign due to their excellent water quality and current lack of significant freshwater pests.

The lakes are home to a range of endangered plants and animals and are one of the most important recreational areas in Northland, popular for boating, sailing, kayaking, swimming, water skiing, camping, walking and trout fishing.

“However, these three lakes, and other outstanding lakes in Northland, are constantly under threat of freshwater weeds and pest fish due to the lakes’ accessibility and the large numbers of visitors they host, especially in summer.”

Mr McKenzie says checking, cleaning and drying equipment between waterways is a simple yet effective way to stop unwanted freshwater pests like hornwort, oxygen weeds and koi carp from reaching our lakes, rivers and streams.

“The problem with these is that once they’re in a waterway, they are incredibly difficult – if not impossible – to remove. They often spread rapidly and can destroy our waterways’ environmental and recreational values.”

Mr McKenzie says before leaving a waterway, people should check items and leave any plant debris they find in their equipment behind.

“All equipment should then be cleaned for at least one minute with a five percent solution of biodegradable dishwashing solution, and then dried before use in another waterway.”

Mr McKenzie says a Check, Clean, Dry team of regional council and Whitebait Connection members will be talking to campers to spread that message over summer.

“The team will also be hosting a free community family fun day at Kai Iwi Lakes on Saturday 15 February which will include free guided snorkelling, pest workshops and fun family games.

He says as part of the project the team had sponsored a Kai iwi Lakes sign design competition with local school students aimed at raising awareness and encouraging lake users to check, clean and dry.

The two winning designs by Dargaville Intermediate and Kaihu Valley Schools had been made into signs and had been installed at the lakes recently to kick off the summer campaign.

Meanwhile, Mr McKenzie says general information on a range of pests is available online via www.nrc.govt.nz/nasties

ENDS

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