The Nevada Department of Wildlife today announced the details of the Aquatic Invasive Species watercraft sticker program which will help fund efforts to prevent the spread of such invasive species as quagga mussels and milfoil. Specifically, users of any watercraft that can be removed from a body of water and still hold water will be required to purchase and affix an AIS decal to the watercraft before launching on any Nevada waterway. The requirement becomes effective Jan. 1, 2013.
"The new decal ultimately benefits boaters by funding programs that reduce the risk of spreading invasive species, thereby keeping waters open to boating and recreation," said Chief Game Warden Rob Buonamici. "Boats are most often the route for new infestations."
The requirement affects all boats, regardless of what state they come from. All types of boats are required to display the decal, but there are some exceptions for small watercraft that are incapable of retaining water, including stand up paddle boards and float tubes used by fishermen. The cost of the decal is $10 for in-state motorboats, $5 for in-state paddle crafts, $20 for out of state motorboats and $10 for out of state paddle craft. The decal will be available at NDOW offices, via the NDOW website or by phone.
Funds generated by the sticker program will be used to create a comprehensive AIS prevention and mitigation program. To prevent the spread of invasive species, NDOW must conduct constant monitoring and testing of waterways. NDOW will also be working with other agencies and entities to build and maintain wash stations that boaters can use to ensure they are not spreading invasive species.
"Our goal is to educate the boating public on how to minimize the spread of these harmful species since boats are the leading cause of new infestations," said NDOW Director Ken Mayer. "This will include the creation of a program to inspect boats for aquatic invasive species at key locations during peak usage times."
In addition to the sticker requirement, NDOW reminds boaters to clean, drain and dry all boats and associated equipment between each and every trip to the water. "The agency will be focusing on education for the first couple of years of the program to help boaters adjust to the new requirement," said Buonamici. "However, boaters who are informed about the requirement and still fail to purchase and display a decal will be subject to citation."
The new AIS decal sticker program stemmed from the passage of AB167 during the 2011 legislative session. Nevada was one of the last states to pass such a bill to address aquatic invasive species. These various species of non-native plants and animals can displace native species, create serious environmental problems in waterways and do serious damage to water intake and distribution systems such as those many Nevada residents depend on for the culinary water needs. One of the most significant threats is the quagga mussel that was discovered in Lake Mead in 2007.