The recent discovery of quagga mussels on a watercraft at a Lake Tahoe boat inspection station highlights the continued need for vigilance against aquatic invasive species. As part of increased prevention methods approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Governing Board this week, motorists towing boats in the Lake Tahoe Basin will be required to remove drain plugs from their watercraft after leaving the water.
Lake Tahoe boat inspectors discovered quagga mussels on a watercraft at the Alpine Meadows Inspection Station May 14. California Department of Fish and Wildlife quarantined the boat for several days, and Tahoe Resource Conservation District staff performed multiple decontaminations to ensure all invasive species were removed before the boat was released to the owner.
Quagga mussels have caused billions of dollars in negative economic impact to waterways nationwide, including areas in Southern California and Lake Mead.
“The board’s decision this week requiring boaters to remove drain plugs from their watercraft after leaving the water is a critical step in the continued protection of all lakes against the threat of aquatic invasive species,” said Dennis Zabaglo, TRPA aquatic resources program manager.
“The drain plug rule is consistent with direction from fish and wildlife agencies across the West.”
Updated TRPA regulations require boaters to remove drain plugs as boats leave the lake, which will help prevent the spread of existing aquatic invasive species within the lake.
Removal of drain plugs while traveling will assist boaters in arriving at boat inspection stations across the West clean, drained, and dry — an effective way to prevent the spread of invasive species.
The new rule is consistent with best boating practices and a newly adopted Nevada law. People transporting watercraft in Nevada are required to have all devices controlling the draining of water removed and open while the craft is on Nevada public roads.
Additional TRPA code updates emphasize that willful attempts to launch without inspection and the use of stolen inspection seals are prohibited.
For information on Lake Tahoe boat inspections, visit www.tahoeboatinspections.com.