Oregon officials are experiencing heightened concern in recent days as invasive mussels were discovered on three boats being hauled into the state during the month of May.
Since May 1, ODFW watercraft inspectors discovered invasive mussels on three boats: one in Central Point just north of Medford in Interstate 5 in southern Oregon and two in La Grande in northeast Oregon on Interstate 84. All three boats have been decontaminated using hot water and high pressure.
The Central Point boat held destructive quagga mussels; the owner had used the boat in Lake Havasu, Ariz. The two La Grande boats contained zebra mussels; one had been moored in Saginaw Bay, Mich., and the other was a barge used on the Mississippi River system.
Rick Boatner, the ODFW’s Invasive Species coordinator, said Oregonians must not to get complacent.
“Although the quagga and zebra mussels we have found are on boats coming in from out of state, we have plenty of problems within the state,” Boatner said. “Both invasive New Zealand mudsnails and Eurasian watermilfoil have infested our waters and are easily spread.”
Motorists hauling boats in Oregon are now required to stop at posted watercraft inspection stations to have their boats, paddlecraft and other watercraft inspected for aquatic invasive species.
Inspection stations are operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at Port of Entries, highway rest stops and boat ramps across the state. Inspection stations are currently open in La Grande and Central Point and will open in Klamath Falls on June 7 and in Hines on June 14. Failure to stop at an inspection station could result in a $142 fine.
On June 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oregon State Police will assist ODFW watercraft inspectors with enforcement at the Port of Entry in Ashland.
Motorists are alerted to inspections stations by orange “Boat Inspection Ahead” signs and followed by a white “Inspection Required for All Watercraft” sign. 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 aquatic invasive species. If a boat is found to be contaminated with aquatic invasive species such as quagga or zebra mussels, it will be decontaminated on site by the watercraft 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.
The Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program is self-supporting, based on the sales of required Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permits.
Learn where and how to buy an Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permit on ODFW’s web site, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/invasive_species/quagga_zebra_mussel.asp
The Oregon Marine Board advises clean, drain and dry: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/invasive_species/quagga_zebra_mussel.asp
Invasive species are identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as one of the biggest threats to the state’s native fish, wildlife and habitats. For more information: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/read_the_strategy.asp