Tahoe watercraft inspection program continues to ward off invasive species
LAKE TAHOE — According to watercraft inspection data and scientific reports, Lake Tahoe’s waters remain free of new invasive species introductions, which are major threats to the overall health of Lake Tahoe and surrounding water bodies.
During the 2013 boating season Tahoe Resource Conservation District watercraft inspectors performed more than 7,000 new inspections. In total, more than 14,000 vessels launched at Lake Tahoe, including both newly inspected vessels and those with intact Tahoe-issued inspection seals.
“We’re very happy with the watercraft inspectors’ diligence and accuracy,” said Patrick Stone, TRPA’s senior wildlife and fisheries biologist. “Monitoring conducted in Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake, and Echo Lake confirmed that quagga and zebra mussels have not established in our lakes. These results are a credit to the inspection program and boaters efforts to arrive clean, drained and dry.”
Local agencies are critically concerned as more Western waterbodies have shown evidence of invasive mussels and other aquatic invaders. This summer, Nevada Department of Wildlife confirmed establishment of New Zealand mudsnails in sections of the Truckee River from Mayberry Park in Reno to the Sparks area. As watercraft continue to arrive from high-risk waters, the importance of Lake Tahoe’s Watercraft Inspection Program remains critical. In fact, 36 of the inspected watercraft were harboring aquatic invasive critters including plants, mussels and snails. With our efficient roadside inspection stations, Tahoe RCD decontaminated 4,221watercraft with hot water preventing invasive species from entering Tahoe’s waters.
“I’d like to thank the more than 3,000 boaters who arrived at the Tahoe inspection stations with their watercraft clean, drained and dry. They got on the water faster because decontaminations mean more time and more cost for both the boaters and the inspection program.” Nicole Cartwright, Watercraft Inspection Program administrator.
Tahoe RCD watercraft inspectors also staffed Boca, Prosser and Stampede Reservoirs and partnered with the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District to provide watercraft inspectors at Donner Lake. Truckee inspectors screened more than 3,500 vessels for aquatic invasive species. Tahoe RCD continues to support jurisdictions in the Truckee region as they work toward development of their 2014 aquatic invasive species prevention programs.
Prevention efforts for more than 7,000 paddlers occurred at U.S. Forest Service kiosks, boat ramps and Fallen Leaf Lake. They were assessed for their risk of transporting aquatic invasive species from previously visited waterbodies. Paddlers were also educated about self-inspecting and decontaminating canoes, kayaks and paddleboards and encouraged to become a Tahoe Keeper (TahoeKeepers.org).
Current information on the boat inspection program, including hours of operation for boat launches and snow closures, is available at TahoeBoatInspections.com or by calling 888-824-6267.
About the Lake Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program
The Watercraft Inspection Program is part of the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Coordination Committee which is implemented by 40 public and private partner organizations including federal, state and local jurisdictions, research partners, public utility districts, and private marinas, with major funding from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The state, federal and local agencies comprising the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinating Committee have provided leadership, direction and resources to fulfill this program’s mission of prevention, detection and control of aquatic invasive species in the Lake Tahoe Region.
The Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s (Tahoe RCD) mission is to promote the conservation and improvement of the Lake Tahoe Basin’s soil, water and related natural resources by providing leadership, information, programs, and technical assistance to all land managers, owners, organizations, and residents. The Tahoe RCD is a non-regulatory, grant funded, public agency that works with a variety of partner agencies to implement projects, programs and outreach which currently focus on erosion control, runoff infiltration, terrestrial and aquatic invasive species control, and conservation landscaping.