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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Idaho invasive species check station intercepts infested boat

This Idaho license plate, immersed in Lake Mead for nine months, emerged thickly encrusted with invasive quagga mussels; some have been scraped off to show the plate underneath. Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, has the plate on display in her Capitol office in Boise; she wants Idaho to avoid similar infestations in its waterways. (Betsy Z. Russell)
This Idaho license plate, immersed in Lake Mead for nine months, emerged thickly encrusted with invasive quagga mussels; some have been scraped off to show the plate underneath. Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, has the plate on display in her Capitol office in Boise; she wants Idaho to avoid similar infestations in its waterways. (Betsy Z. Russell)

UPDATED with response at end.

INVASIVE SPECIES -- It's only the first week of spring and Idaho highway check stations already have intercepted three boats fouled with invasive species. The latest was an especially serious potential threat to the region's waterways.

The mussel-fouled watercraft was intercepted Monday at the US 93 inspection station near Twin Falls.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s Invasive Species Program reports today that the watercraft was is under quarantine at the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office. Decontamination under the ISDA hold order will include a high-pressure, high-temperature wash of the exterior and trailer and a hot-water wash and flush of plumbing, bilge, and live wells. The vessel will be held for up to 30 days while it is decontaminated.

"For more than three months, the fouled watercraft had been in Lake Havasu – a known quagga mussel and zebra mussel-infested waterbody – and was destined for Alberta, Canada," the agency reports in a media release. "The boat was not inspected or decontaminated when it left Lake Havasu."

Two other fouled boats intercepted in Idaho this year were carrying dead mussels. They were cleaned but not impounded.

Idaho will staff 19 stations around the state in the 2017 season including one on Interstate 90 near Fourth of July Pass.  Several roving stations will pop up around the state as well, officials said.

Since Idaho initiated watercraft inspections in 2009, the program has checked out 450,000 watercraft, including nearly 90,000 inspections in 2016. Those inspections have identified nearly 165 fouled watercraft carrying zebra or quagga mussels, including 19 watercraft last year, officials said.

"ISDA’s boat inspection stations serve an important role in preventing the introduction or movement of invasive species and noxious weeds, which could be devastating to the health of Idaho’s water bodies and the state’s economy," the release said.

The basic prevention procedure emphasized by inspection stations throughout the Northwest is for boat owners to clean, drain and dry their vessels and equipment.

UPDATE

After seeing this post, a Havasu-area resident offered this bit of perspective:

Are you aware that Lake Havasu was originally infested by a boater hauling his boat from the Great Lakes area? Your article makes it sound like we're the problem. We're not. The snowbirds who drug their boat here are the issue.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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