Fight Against Aquatic Invasive Species Continues as Lake Tahoe Roadside Boat Inspection Stations Open for Season
All motorized watercraft require an inspection prior to launching into Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, and Donner Lake.
The on-going effort to keep Tahoe blue may have just gotten easier. The United State Army Corps of Engineers have agreed to provide $1 million in funding to continue the fight against aquatic invasive species in Lake Tahoe.
"It's unfortunate when they get into a new water body and you'd pretty rapidly see the effect that they'd have on the lake,” said Andrew Peterson, a site lead at the Spooner boat inspection station.
Tom Lotshaw, Public Information Officer with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency added, “They can really choke up the water way, harm the environment and really degrade the recreation experience."
Fortunately, thanks to federal grants like the one just given to the Tahoe Regional Planning agency, boat inspections have been a yearly defense effort since 2009 and one of the most successful programs keeping the lake clear.
“We're going on 10 years with no new invasive species on the lake and we're really hoping to keep that going,” said Lotshaw.
The funds won't just be used for preventable measures like boat inspections, but also to fight current problems in the water like Asian Clams at places like Sand Harbor.
“They found their way into the lake at some point decades ago,” said Lotshaw. “We’re trying to manage or eradicate those species better."
The funding from the Army Corps of Engineers will also be used to develop a monitoring plan. One that survey's the lake to give experts a better idea of where invasive species populations are coming from.
All motorized watercraft require an inspection for aquatic invasive species (AIS) prior to launching into Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, and Donner Lake. Invasive species, such as quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, and hydrilla, are known to multiply quickly and colonize underwater surfaces, including docks and piers, water supply and filtration systems, buoys, moored boats, and even the beautiful rocky shoreline. They destroy fish habitat, ruin boat engines, and can negatively impact water quality and the local economy, recreation, and ecosystem. Boats and other watercraft are the largest transporters of AIS, and the inspection program is critical to preventing their spread into Lake Tahoe and other waterbodies. Knowingly transporting AIS into Lake Tahoe is against the law, and violators may be subject to monetary penalties.
Locations, hours of operation, and opening dates are as follows:
Opening Tuesday, May 1:
8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., 7 days a week
• Meyers: at the junction of US Highway 50 and Highway 89
• Spooner Summit: at the junction of US Highway 50 and Highway 28 in Nevada
• Alpine Meadows: Highway 89, off Alpine Meadows Road north of Tahoe City
Opening Thursday, May 17:
8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., 7 days a week
• Truckee-Tahoe: Highway 267, off Truckee Airport Road
Since 2008, Tahoe RCD inspectors have performed over 70,000 vessel inspections and decontaminated 32,576 of them using hot water. Throughout the past 10 seasons inspectors have found hundreds of vessels containing foreign species such as mussels, snails and plant material.
Annual watercraft inspection fees remain unchanged from last year. The “Tahoe In & Out” inspection ranges from $35 for personal watercraft and vessels under 17 feet and up to $121 for vessels over 39 feet. The “Tahoe Only” inspection sticker is $30. If your vessel is not Clean, Drain, and Dry, decontaminations are available for $35. There is an additional $10 fee for the decontamination of ballast tanks or bags.
(Forest Service contributed to this report.)