Posted on behalf of Barb Lehman <email@example.com> --- 5/22/02 MORE THAN HALF OF MICHIGAN'S COUNTIES HAVE LAKES WITH ZEBRA MUSSELS; WASH AND WATCH TO SLOW THE SPREAD CONTACT: Carol Swinehart 517-353-9723 Mike Klepinger 517-353-5508 Pearl Bonnell 989-257-3583 EAST LANSING, Mich. -- At least 166 inland lakes in more than half of Michigan's counties have become infested with zebra mussels during the past decade, but washing and watching can help slow the spread. Oakland County leads the list with 43 infested lakes confirmed. Cass and Branch counties are a distant second and third, respectively, with 13 and 11 lakes on the list. Livingston and Jackson counties are next, tied with seven each. Last year for the first time, two Upper Peninsula counties joined the growing list when the pistachio-sized striped mollusks were identified in Iron County's Fortune Pond and Dickinson County's Lake Antoine. Zebra mussels are so small that they might seem harmless. However, they can damage boat motors and clog the intakes of lakefront water systems. Their sharp shells can injure people and animals that step on them. They filter nutrients from the water, diminishing the food supply for other organisms. Their filter feeding clears bodies of water, which then may experience overgrowth of submerged aquatic vegetation, says Michigan Sea Grant's aquatic nuisance species specialist Mike Klepinger. "They definitely alter the ecosystem," he observes. So what's a person to do to keep more of the state's 11,000 lakes from becoming infested? Klepinger suggests making sure that all recreational equipment is cleaned before it leaves any body of water. Sea Grant has produced a sticker/decal that describes four basic steps to keep bodies of water free of zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species: ** Remove any visible mud, plants, fish or animals before transporting equipment. ** Drain water from equipment (boat, motor, trailer, live wells) before transporting. ** Clean and dry anything that comes into contact with water (equipment, clothing, children, dogs). ** Never release plants, fish or animals into a body of water unless they came out of that same body of water. The stickers are available from Michigan Lake and Stream Associations (ML&SA) by contacting Pearl Bonnell at 989-257-3583 or Pbonnell@mlswa.org . For more information, visit www.ProtectYourWaters.net. Another step in keeping an eye on the mussel invasion is to participate in the Zebra Mussel Brick Watch, organized by ML&SA with Sea Grant's help. Brick watching involves the following procedure: ** Tie one end of a rope to a brick. ** Suspend the brick 1 foot above the bottom of the lake. ** Tie the other end of the rope to a dock. ** Pull the brick up out of the water in late summer/fall. ** Complete the reporting form. ** Send the report form to ML&SA by November 1. To participate in the brick watch project, contact ML&SA representative Bonnell at 989-257-3583 or Pbonnell@mlswa.org. "This method can be used by anyone to help us keep track of where zebra mussels have moved," Klepinger says, "and we really encourage people to become involved." ML&SA is a statewide organization of more than 375 local lake and stream associations. Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program of Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, conducting Great Lakes research, education and outreach. #cys# Note to Media: A complete alphabetical list of each county's infested lakes is attached. Not included in the list are infested lakes that have direct connections with or have outlets within 1 mile of a Great Lake.