During the first week of inspection operations, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife boat inspectors discovered invasive mussels on two boats: one in Central Point and one in La Grande.
One boat was decontaminated; the other is scheduled to be decontaminated this week. The Central Point boat held destructive quagga mussels; the owner had used the boat in Lake Havasu, Arizona. The La Grande boat contained zebra mussels and had been in Saginaw Bay, Michigan.
“Both of these boat owners willingly stopped for boat inspections,” said Rick Boatner, ODFW Invasive Species coordinator. “It is somewhat alarming to find mussels on two boats in the first week of inspections, but it shows the program does work.”
“Hopefully, this serves as a reminder to all boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats after every use,” said Boatner. “Not only are we worried about mussels coming in from out of state, we are also worried about spreading the New Zealand mudsnails and invasive plants such as Eurasian Milfoil that are already established in some of our waters.”
ODFW boat inspection stations are currently open Tuesday through Saturday at the Interstate 5 Port of Entry near Ashland north of the California line and at the Baker Valley Rest Area on Interstate 84 near Baker City in eastern Oregon. Two other stations will be up and running in the next few weeks, one near Klamath Falls, also near the California border and one near Hines in the east-central part of the state.
Motorists hauling boats in Oregon are required to stop at boat inspection stations to have their watercraft inspected for aquatic invasive species under a 2011 law. Failure to stop could result in a $142 fine.
Motorists are alerted to inspections stations by orange “Boat Inspection Ahead” signs. All vehicles carrying kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, sailboats and any other boats, non-motorized or motorized, are required to stop.
Inspections usually take about 10 minutes if boats are free of invasive species. If a boat is found to be contaminated with quagga or zebra mussels, it will be cleaned on site by the boat inspection team with a hot water pressure washer. There is no penalty or cost for the boat owner if their boat is found to be contaminated with invasive species.
When a motor boat passes inspection a seal will be connected from the boat to the trailer as proof the boat has been inspected and is clean to launch. Boaters can easily remove the seal when they launch. All boaters will be given a copy of the inspection form. Non-motorized boaters can show their inspection form if requested by law enforcement.
The Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program is self-supporting, based on the sales of required Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permits. Find information on the program and where to buy a permit on ODFW’s website, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/invasive_species/quagga_zebra_mussel.asp