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Updates and Frequently Asked Questions


Guidelines for Conducting Watercraft Inspections During the COVID-19 Pandemic - May 20, 2020

This information is meant to provide guidelines for watercraft inspectors around the state who are healthy and want to begin conducting watercraft inspections. These guidelines provide ways to conduct watercraft inspections while following recommended safety precautions, however the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults over the age of 60 and individuals with underlying health conditions continue to shelter in place and that safeguards should be taken to isolate from vulnerable populations. Watercraft inspection is a voluntary activity. Please put your health and safety first.

People who have symptoms of a coronavirus infection should not be at the landing. The most common symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, muscle pain), sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.

A Phased Approach to Managing Risk at Landings for CBCW

The Badger Bounce Back Plan and CDC Guidelines for Opening Up America Again include gating criteria (metrics and data) and phases to help people make decisions about interacting in groups and safely returning to activities. You can view the status of each metric in Wisconsin on the DHS website, updated daily. These criteria and the phases can be useful for local groups deciding when and how to carry out CBCW activities at boat landings. The specific metrics that DHS provides are based on federal guidance in the CDC’s national strategy. 

CDC and WI DHS gating criteria and phases also depend on the capacity of the health care system to handle surges in coronavirus cases. As of mid-May, these capacity metrics have been met. Should a major outbreak occur in the state, capacity could again become an issue.


Organizations need to determine when they can initiate and expand landing activities. Gating criteria on the DHS website can be helpful in making that determination.


Watercraft inspections may begin at less busy boat landings around the state with groups of 10 people or less.


Watercraft inspections can expand to landings with groups of 50 people or less.


Return to normal inspections (Understand that boaters and anglers may still appreciate efforts to maintain a physical distance and additional sanitation protocols).

Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others and their boats/equipment.*



​Use a cloth face mask when there are additional people at the landing who could come into close proximity – this is meant to protect others in case you are infected but without symptoms (if you have symptoms, you should not be at the landing). Free, reusable, 4-ply cloth face masks will be available for inspectors to order online in June.




Have access to hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content).




Hand out AIS brochures, stickers, or other publications.



(upon request)

​Assist boaters/anglers with plant removal.

(unless using a grabbing tool)

(unless using a grabbing tool)

​Share inspection materials with other inspectors , such as clipboards, datasheets, t-shirts, hats, etc.




​Wash and sanitize hands especially after touching public surfaces, such as handrails on boat launches or piers.**




*If you are suddenly unable to maintain 6 feet of distance from others because of the number of people at a landing, remove yourself to a safe location where you can observe and allow your presence and friendly wave to be a positive reminder of AIS prevention for others.

**The virus is not spread through the skin, so we do not recommend using gloves at the landing. More importantly, limit touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and wash/sanitize after contacting public surfaces.

Additional resources to consider:

If you have further questions, please contact your local AIS Coordinator (if you don’t know, find out who that is here) or Erin McFarlane, Statewide CBCW Educator, at

These guidelines are also available as a two-page handout. Download the PDF handout HERE.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did the recommendations in the CBCW Bounce Back plan come from?

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and University Extension has provided recommendations based upon the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Badger Bounce Back Plan in response to requests from grantees for guidance in proceeding with Clean Boats, Clean Waters inspections during the current pandemic. The CBCW Bounce Back guidelines also draw from the CDC’s advice on How to Protect Yourself & Others from COVID-19.

Are we required to follow the CBCW Bounce Back guidelines to be reimbursed for the grant?

The recommendations provided to grantees for volunteer and paid inspector’s activities are not requirements, but merely suggested best management practices to help increase the safety of CBCW volunteers and grantees. CBCW grant activities are still being reimbursed as long as they are within the scope of the original grant agreement. If your organization is prepared to begin inspections and approves of moving forward with inspections, you are able to do so as long as you are still following the rules of your local jurisdiction and the boat landing owner. We recommend a phased approach based on public health data.

Who will decide when, or if, we start inspections?

Ultimately, the decision to begin inspections is made by the grantee or sponsor organization. County and local guidelines should still be a factor in making the decision to start inspections and you may need to adjust if orders come out locally as we move through the summer. There will be no official “okay” from DNR to begin inspection activities as it is a local decision and situations vary statewide. That being said, inspectors should still be complying with the policies of their employer (or sponsor organization if a volunteer) as well as those of the local jurisdiction they are operating in including the ownership of a specific boat landing. As of June 22, the Wisconsin DNR and other state agencies are moving into their Phase 1 and are re-engaging in a wide range of volunteer activities. Click here to learn more about the DNR’s agency-wide approach to operating during the Coronavirus pandemic and DNR volunteer engagement. 

We have heard of several organizations moving toward their own Phase 1 prior to gating criteria being met. How do we know when Phase 1 for CBCW begins? 

The decision to begin inspections is made by the grantee or sponsor organization. If an organziation chooses to follow recommendations in the Wisconsin Department of Health Service’s Badger Bounce Back Plan, phase 1 begins when all six gating criteria are met. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services updates the gating criteria data regularly, and the status statewide may change often. The date when all gating criteria will be met is unknown right now, and we encourage regularly checking the website for updates. Again, waiting until Phase 1 of the Badger Bounce Back Plan to begin is a recommendation and not a requirement to follow for CBCW grants.

If we follow the recommendation to wait to begin inspections until Phase 1 of the Bounce Back Plan, how will this impact the 200-hour per landing requirement for our CBCW grant?

While there may be a later start to the CBCW inspections, hopefully the 200-hour requirement can still be met, and the grant can proceed almost as normal. The usual CBCW inspection season usually runs May 1 to October 30, but there are still a few months to complete the 200 hours if inspections start around June. Waterfowl hunter outreach can extend into fall and early winter and can help meet required hours if we are not able to go out to landings until later in summer.

If only some of the hours are met, then we could do a partial final payment to reflect the hours that were completed. Generally that is calculated by: 

(number of hours completed at a landing)/(200 hours)=% of hours completed. 

We take that % and multiply it by the grant award to figure out the maximum award that can be paid out at the end of the grant. That way, you can still be reimbursed for most of the grant award even if you are only able to complete a portion of the hours. This does not impact future chances of getting a CBCW grant award or amount awarded for the next year at all. See the question below if you do not think you will be able to complete the grant at all this summer.

What if we are not able to complete our grant over the summer? What will happen to our grant?

If your organization feels that completing CBCW activities this summer would be unsafe or you encounter other coronavirus-related challenges, we are able to discuss a time extension for the grant into next summer. This would effectively convert the grant to cover the summer of 2021, and you would not need to apply for a grant this fall. You can hold on to the advanced payment you have already received in anticipation of completing grant activities as normal next year. From the DNR’s perspective, it is better to extend your grant into next year than to cancel the grant. You must contact Alex Delvoye as soon as possible if this option would work best for your organization to work on a grant amendment.

Who do I contact about further questions on CBCW grants or other Surface Water Grants?

The Surface Water Grant staff including your biologists and environmental grants staff are available to answer your questions. CBCW inquires may be sent directly to Alex Delvoye. Please work in close collaboration with your biologists and environmental grant specialists to determine the best course of action and discuss any potential project changes with biologists and environmental grant specialists PRIOR to incurring costs not included within your project application scope and budget. We encourage you to communicate via email as staff are working remotely.

Where and how do I order the free CBCW masks for my inspectors?

The CBCW cloth face masks are available to order from the CBCW online store. These free reusable, 4-ply masks are available to all watercraft inspectors to use while working at the boat landing. Please limit your order to two masks per inspector. If you need to place an order for more than 10 masks, please email Erin McFarlane (, and she will help facilitate your order.

Find more details about the masks and place your order for two free masks here.

What training opportunities are there for inspectors and are they impacted by COVID-19? Who do I contact to find training options in my area?

If you’re looking for CBCW training opportunities this year, be sure to check the CBCW Training calendar on the CBCW website to see what is available. On the calendar, you can find trainings specific to your county/area, as well as trainings that will be conducted from a statewide perspective. AIS staff are working to offer online trainings to follow safety precautions recommended by the state and CDC. If you’d like to attend a training, please send an email to the person listed in the details of that training to receive more information on how to join that training. 

Don’t see a training listed for your county? Reach out to your local AIS Coordinator (find out who that is here) and ask if they have any online trainings planned.

How can I still assist with AIS prevention efforts if I'm not participating in watercraft inspections?

There are a few ways you can stay involved in AIS prevention:

For more information contact
Erin McFarlane, Statewide CBCW Educator 
(715) 346-4978 or​
Or go to
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources site
at (exit UWEX Lakes)

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