By Idaho State Department of Agriculture
BOISE –The Idaho State Department of Agriculture Invasive Species Program is reminding boaters to take precautions this holiday week to avoid transporting invasive species, such as quagga and zebra mussels.
The introduction of invasive species into Idaho could damage water use by native species, agriculture, utilities, and municipalities. If quagga or zebra mussels were to infest Idaho’s waters, as they have done in other states, it could cost the state nearly $100 million annually in damage and lost revenue.
Watercraft owners can reduce the risk of spreading invasive species by using three simple but effective strategies:
* CLEAN watercraft and equipment before leaving any waterbody. Inspect and clean watercraft, anchors, planes, trailers, waders, shoes, life jackets and scuba gear for visible plants and animals. Remove and dispose of material on-site in a trash receptacle or on high, dry ground where there is no danger of it washing into a waterbody.
* DRAIN water from all equipment, including motors, live wells, sea strainers, wakeboard ballast tanks, boat hulls, scuba gear, bait buckets, waders, and boots. Pull the boat’s bilge plug and allow water to drain.
* DRY all vessel compartments and lay equipment out to dry before using in a different waterbody or watershed.
“ISDA’s inspection program has been working for a decade to prevent invasive aquatic mussels from entering Idaho,” said ISDA Director Celia Gould. “However, private citizens remain our first – and best – line of defense. We see that the more educated the public is about the threat we face, the more they care and work to prevent moving invasive species.”
In 2017, the ISDA program performed over 93,000 watercraft inspections and intercepted 31 mussel-fouled watercraft. To date in 2018, ISDA inspectors have performed more than 41,000 inspections and intercepted 36 mussel-fouled watercraft.
The ISDA operates 20 inspection stations and three roving stations. Last year, the invasive species program also operated a pilot program near Cotterell for the first 24-hour inspection station. Utilizing data from that pilot station, the ISDA has continued operating the 24-hour Cotterell inspection station and has increased operations to 18 hours per day for other stations located near Cedars, Jackpot, and Malad.
The ISDA reminds boaters and recreationists to prepare to have boats and equipment inspected at check stations. All boaters must stop for mandatory inspection when traveling past an Idaho watercraft station during operating hours.
Boat owners are encouraged to participate in the inspection process to learn ways to keep watercraft cleaned, drained and dry. Before launching on Idaho waters, all watercraft must have a current invasive species sticker, which is sold by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.
The ISDA also operates a hotline at (877) 336-8676 for anyone needing information or a free decontamination wash for watercraft that may have been in mussel-infested waters. More information on the operation and location of inspection stations is available on the ISDA website: http://invasivespecies.idaho.gov/watercraft-inspection-stations/.
Idaho has invested significant funding and energy into preventing the spread of devastating invasive species to Idaho. There is no one solution to a potential problem of this magnitude, though, and Idahoans’ ability to stay vigilant is our best defense.