Ty’s Summer of Clean Boats and Clean Waters

Sep 21, 2021 | Aquatic Invasive Species, Recreation

Summer is a busy time of year for the aquatic invasive species team, and before we shift gears and dive into fall, we wanted to take a minute during this transition to say a big thank you to our summer AIS intern, Ty Tretter. Luckily we don’t have to say goodbye just yet, though, as Ty is staying on through the end of the year for the Waterfowl Campaign as we switch our AIS focus from anglers and boaters to waterfowl hunters.

Like last year, there was seemingly more interest than ever in spending time in and on Wisconsin’s waterways. Ty spent nearly every weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day conducting Clean Boats Clean Waters watercraft inspections and helping folks remove plants and animals from their boats at landings in the greater La Crosse area.

Ty takes a selfie with Champion Bass Pro Angler and athlete Justin Lucas
Ty got to meet champion bass pro angler and athlete Justin Lucas.

Professional and amateur fishing tournaments draw thousands of anglers from all over the country to the Mississippi River each summer, and Ty had a chance to make sure they weren’t transporting any accidental hitchhikers with them. Ty also played a key role in Snapshot Day in La Crosse, as his team identified faucet snails (a worrisome invasive species that is deadly to waterfowl) in two new locations on Goose Island for the first time.


When asked to reflect upon his AIS internship, it was obvious that Ty is passionate about preventing the spread of AIS and that his internship experience changed the way he looks at water.

Q: Do you feel like the Clean Boats Clean Waters program is a good investment by the state of Wisconsin?

A: Yes, especially with how many new boaters there are on the water since the start of the COVID crisis. Boating has become much more popular over the last few years, and it was most of the new boaters who weren’t very familiar with the AIS who are present in the Mississippi. 

Q: In your opinion, what’s the general state of awareness of folks in our area about AIS?

A: I was quite surprised with the amount of knowledge that people had about AIS. Many of the people I talked to this summer have grown up on the Mississippi and are aware of the AIS and want to do their best to help preserve this waterway. Overall, I think there is pretty good awareness of AIS in this area.

Q: What was one of your most memorable interactions with boaters?

A: During the Tackle Warehouse Championship at Veterans Freedom Landing in La Crosse, I got to meet and talk to Skeet Reese (as well as his pro angler brother, Jimmy Reese, pictured above), who has been my favorite fisherman since I started watching Major League Fishing. He appreciated what I was doing and that I was educating everyone on invasive species, and he thought it was important to make sure everyone is aware of the invasive species we have in the Mississippi River.

Q: How has this internship changed the way you personally recreate and view the water?

A: The internship has made me realize how important it is to clean and take care of your boat after you have it out on the water. It is so easy to spread invasive species from body of water to body of water. This internship has helped me see how easy it is to miss plants that are hanging from your boat and trailer and just how easy it is for them to spread if they are introduced into a new body of water. 


Thank you for all the hard work, Ty!

– Ellen Voss, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Director


This message is made possible by generous donors who believe people have the power to protect and restore water. Become a member of River Alliance of Wisconsin today.