Unless you’re brand new to boating, chances are you’ve been through a boat inspection in the western U.S., or seen messaging such as “Clean, Drain, Dry” and “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers.”
The days of transporting your boat haphazardly from water to water without a care are a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop enjoying your favorite spots or exploring new places.
A new threat: Recreational boating main pathway for AIS
Many freshwater systems in the western U.S. are under threat from non-native invasive species of plants and animals that have been slowly taking over. These invasive species can clog up pipes that deliver water to municipal and agricultural water supplies, alter ecosystems that fisheries rely on, and damage watercraft and recreational equipment. These species have no natural predators or disease outside of their native range, and are often able to outcompete native species for nutrients and space, eventually overtaking the ecosystem.
Many of these harmful species were originally transported to the U.S. through shipping and air trade; however, the main pathway spreading these species now is recreational boating.
Aquatic plants and animals can’t survive long periods of time out of water, so it is imperative to thoroughly Clean, Drain, and Dry watercraft and equipment that comes in contact with water in between each and every use. While aquatic species cannot survive indefinitely out of the water, some species such as New Zealand mudsnails and quagga or zebra mussels can survive for weeks at a time under the right conditions.
Boat inspections: a few minutes can save a waterway
Boat inspections provide an additional level of protection for the lakes and reservoirs that we love. Trained inspectors can quickly identify potential threats, and if necessary, decontaminate any areas or equipment on a boat safely and effectively to eliminate the threat of moving an invasive species.
Keeping invasive species from spreading to other lakes and reservoirs and preventing new introductions requires active participation from boaters, agencies and the boating industry. Together, we can ensure healthy lakes, reservoirs and streams for our enjoyment, and preservation for future generations. It only takes a few minutes. Remember, with great boating comes great responsibility.