SANDPOINT – The Bonner Soil and Water Conservation District has hired 15 employees to staff boat inspection stations in the Pend Oreille and Priest watersheds in North Idaho.
The district received money from the state Department of Agriculture to locally manage the stations intended to protect the area from aquatic invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels.
“Local management of boat inspection stations will ensure a better working relationship with the community, law enforcement and the boating public,” said Kate Wilson, coordinator for the Pend Oreille Basin Commission.
Those hired to staff the stations will undergo classroom training and hands-on instruction.
The stations will be in place from May 27 to Sept. 15, operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The stations will be located on U.S. Highway 95. An inspection station is also planned on Highway 200 at the Montana state line.
All watercraft, including nonmotorized vessels, must stop at a boat inspection site.
The state’s Invasive Species Sticker Fund pays for the aquatic invasive species prevention program. Fees range from $7 for canoes, kayaks and drift boats under 10 feet, to $22 for motorized vessels registered out of state.
Owners of boats without a sticker face a fine of $57. Knowingly transporting an aquatic invader can lead to a fine of $3,000 and incarceration.
“This year we have a unique opportunity to better protect our waterways from aquatic invaders, provide jobs for local citizens and make a model of the Boat Inspection Program,” Wilson said.
Quagga and zebra mussels are considered a threat because they reproduce rapidly and can clog machinery and water pipes and have a negative impact on aquatic ecosystems.