Lake Tahoe boat inspections: Man could face $5,000 fine for allegedly evading inspections

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STATELINE - A man who officials say purposefully evaded Lake Tahoe boat inspectors this summer after they recommended his vessel for decontamination could face a $5,000 fine.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staff will recommend the fine at the Wednesday governing board meeting, said Jeff Cowen, TRPA community liaison.

The man - identified in a TRPA staff report as Mark Kanev - could not be reached for comment.

TRPA has established inspection stations around Lake Tahoe in an effort to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering the lake - particularly quagga and zebra mussels, which could devastate Lake Tahoe's ecology. Quagga mussels are capable of multiplying to the trillions in only a few years, said Cowen.

"A watercraft decontamination is required for any vessel that is not clean, drained and dry, or that came from a known infested water body," said Cowen in a prepared statement.

According to TRPA, Kanev attempted to launch his boat on June 28 at the ramp in Cave Rock. He told inspectors that the boat had last been in Sand Hollow Reservoir in Utah - a mussel-infested body of water, according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.

Inspectors determined a full decontamination of the vessel was necessary. Decontamination was scheduled for July 1. When Kanev did not arrive for his scheduled decontamination, TRCD inspectors attempted to contact him, unsuccessfully.

After contacting other inspection sites, TRCD staff learned Kanev's boat had been inspected at the Meyers inspection station and then launched into Lake Tahoe at the Meeks Bay boat ramp. According to TRCD, Kanev told the Meyers inspectors his boat had been in Lake Powell on the Utah/Arizona border, which is not mussel-infested, and omitted any reference to Sand Hollow Reservoir.

Using the vessel's description and registration numbers, TRPA watercraft patrol located the vessel in Rubicon Bay on July 1 and alerted the California Department of Fish and Game. Wardens assisted in removing the boat from the lake.

It has been determined the boat did not come from Sand Hollow, but from Lake Powell, Cowen said. The discrepancy arose because the subject is not the only operator of the boat, Cowen said.

TRPA staff has conducted DNA tests on the boat and the waters where the boat was located for quagga mussels and no traces were found, said Julie Regan, TRPA communications and legislative affairs chief.

Kim Boyd, Invasive Species Program manager for TRCD - which is in charge of administering the boat inspections in collaboration with TRPA - said the district has closely monitored the portions of Lake Tahoe the boat visited and will continue to supervise those areas.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy for the threat of aquatic invasive species at Lake Tahoe," said Ted Thayer, TRPA Aquatic Invasive Species Program manager. "This case shows that the inspection program is working and has given us an opportunity to improve it to ensure boaters cannot evade inspectors."


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