Bewabic State Park and Fortune Lake in Iron County boast some beautiful and pristine scenery, but underneath the water, a nuisance is making its home: the invasive Zebra Mussel.
â??Theyâ??re invasive because they were introduced from Eastern Europe in ballast water in the Great Lakes,â?? said Roger Jaworski, with the Iron County Conservation District. â??They basically invade new ecosystems where there's nothing to keep them in check.â??
The Iron County Conservation District is unsure when exactly they were introduced into Fortune Lake, but only that they've recently been identified. Itâ??s hard to get rid of them, which makes prevention extremely important.
â??Without any surefire eradication method at this point, it's important for citizens to monitor and help to prevent the spread,â?? Jaworski said.
Fishermen in this lake say it's apparent the Zebra Mussels are here, and they make sure to do what they can to prevent spreading the species.
â??The first time I noticed the Zebra Mussels was this year,â?? said fisherman, Eric Switlick. â??You see them on rocks every once in a while, sometimes when I pull up the weeds there'd be some on them; anchors sometimes.â??
Itâ??s why the conservation district is pushing the phrase, "Clean, Drain, and Dry". Power washing stations are available at some lakes in the county, but boaters are encouraged to drain their boats and dry them before entering other waters. And it's not just Zebra Mussels that have been identified as invasive in Fortune Lake. A species called Banded Mystery Snails that hail from Mexico are in Fortune Lake.
â??Kids usually run up and say, 'Wow! Look at this; I have a snail!' Itâ??s great, but we try to identify what it is and if it's something that's invasive, we don't want to carry it from lake to lake,â?? Jaworski said.
The waters in Iron County are still just as gorgeous as ever, but with invasive predators now, it's important to make sure you're not helping them settle in.