Lake Tahoe watercraft inspectors intercepted a boat on Wednesday with quagga mussels and an unidentified snail species hiding in the anchor locker.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency announced the interception by Tahoe Resource Conservation District watercraft inspectors.
The boat, coming from Lake Mead, a known quagga-infested water body, was inspected at the Spooner Summit inspection station on Highway 50 in Nevada. After discovery of the invasive species, inspectors notified the Nevada Department of Wildlife and then performed a full decontamination. As per protocols, a second inspection and decontamination of the vessel were conducted. With the boat fully decontaminated and free of any signs of invasive species, the boat was cleared to launch in Lake Tahoe.
Over the Fourth of July holiday, more than 725 boats were screened for invasive species at four inspection stations surrounding the lake—a 17 percent increase from 2013.
Since the start of the summer boating season in May 2014, inspectors have intercepted 24 boats containing invasive species bound for the waters of Lake Tahoe. Eight of these boats contained invasive mussels and another four boats were carrying several different snail species. Without natural predators, these invasive species pose serious threats to the ecology, recreation and local economies of the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Intercepting fouled boats and finding mussels in tight crevices emphasizes the importance of the program.
“The fact that this boat was predominantly cleaned, drained and dry, yet inspectors still found the mussel encrusted in mud on the anchor, is significant and proves that the rigorous Lake Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program is working,” said Dennis Zabaglo, TRPA’s Aquatic Resources Program Manager. “This also serves as a reminder for boaters to check all compartments of their boats.”
In 2013, the program—jointly managed by TRPA and the Tahoe RCD—inspected and certified more than 14,000 motorized watercraft that were free of invasive species before launching into Lake Tahoe. An introduction of non-native species could devastate Lake Tahoe’s fragile ecosystem and native fisheries, impact boats and recreation areas, and could cost the Tahoe Basin more than $20 million annually, according to studies.
“We would like to thank our valued partners, including the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and numerous other public and private partners who help make the Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program a national model for invasive species prevention,” said Nicole Cartwright, AIS Program Coordinator for Tahoe RCD “A lot of credit for preventing the further spread of invasive species goes to an increasing number of boaters and paddlers who are taking steps to avoid spreading invasive species, including arriving at inspection stations with their watercraft clean, drained and dry. We all play a part in protecting Lake Tahoe.”
For more information on the Lake Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program, visit TahoeBoatInspections.com.