Tahoe boat surveys going well, officials say

Jen Schmidt/Appeal News ServiceLake Tahoe officials have been inspecting all boats before being allowed to enter the lake since May 16 for invasive mussels.

Jen Schmidt/Appeal News ServiceLake Tahoe officials have been inspecting all boats before being allowed to enter the lake since May 16 for invasive mussels.

Insidious invasive mussels have not breached Lake Tahoe, according to Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Tahoe Resource Conservation District officials who have been inspecting boats for the creatures since May 16.

"They seem to be going very well, no scares, no sightings, not yet anyway," said Dennis Zabaglo, senior environmental specialist and watercraft program manager for TRPA.

The program has inspected thousands of boats, estimated Jenny Francis, a program manager for the conservation district. The total number of inspections will be available at the end of the boating season, she said.

A few boats have warranted closer inspection because they were coming from infected water bodies like Lake Havasu, Ariz.

"From my direct experience inspecting boats, about 75 percent of those boats are only Tahoe boats, and a large percentage that aren't Tahoe boats have been out of the water for a year," Zabaglo said.

Most boats have been coming from the West, Zabaglo said.

"It's just a theory, but I think with the price of gas people aren't traveling as far," he said.

Boaters have been very cooperative with the inspections, Francis said.

"People are really aware and are coming with their boats dry and clean," Francis said.

The program will also be hiring more inspectors and is hoping to work with marinas around the lake that supply their own inspectors.

Aside from looking for invasive mussels like quagga or zebra, Francis said inspectors are also catching invasive plant species like milfoil.

In correlation with California Invasive Weeds Awareness Week this week, the lake Tahoe Basin Weed Coordinating Group will hold a field tour Friday to teach people how to identify invasive species.

For information on the tour call (530) 543-1501 ext. 105.

"This really has to be a grassroots effort to protect the lake," Francis said,

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