TRUCKEE, Calif. - Inspections on motorized and trailered vessels entering Donner Lake will be mandatory starting this spring as officials attempt to stay one step ahead in the battle to prevent invasive species from breaching popular water bodies in the Sierra.A fee schedule for inspections, possible through a town of Truckee ordinance adopted last summer, could be presented to town council for approval in March, said Dan Olsen, animal services/code compliance manager, with a program-launch goal of May 2013. Fees will be designed to completely offset the program's costs, Olsen said, and not generate revenue for involved agencies."The health of local waters is extremely important to the character, natural beauty and economic vitality of the town of Truckee," Olsen said.A steering committee composed of representatives from the town, Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District, Truckee River Watershed Council and Tahoe Resource Conservation District - with feedback from a working group of residents - is developing the program and fees.Teresa Crimmens, a spokesperson for TRCD, said it's too early to talk exact dollar amounts, but one idea being floated is to have separate monthly, seasonal and year-long fees in order to accommodate second-home owners and visitors.While inspections have been voluntary in previous years at Donner Lake and other regional reservoirs, they've been mandatory since 2008 at Lake Tahoe under an agreement between TRCD and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Inspections are done to prevent the introduction of invasive species like quagga and zebra mussels into Tahoe, as the locust-like mollusks and other invasives like Eurasian milfoil could damage the region's environment and hurt the economy in the form of decreased property values and millions in lost tourism dollars."During the involuntary inspections at Donner Lake over the past few years, we collected a lot of data of where boaters were coming from," Crimmens said Tuesday. "What we found is many had previously launched in bodies of water that were known to be infested. Because of that, we knew the risk was there, and we felt it was important to protect Donner Lake."According to data collected since 2010, zebra mussels or quagga mussels do not live in Donner Lake, Crimmens said. Other less-dangerous invasives, such as Asian clams and crawfish, have made it into its waters, however.The ordinance extends to other town reservoirs, including Donner Creek, the Truckee River and a pond in Glenshire, although Olsen said most enforcement efforts will focus on Donner Lake.Inspections will be conducted by TDRPD staff at the public launch ramp on Donner Lake, Olsen said; additional off-ramp locations will be announced as appropriate to accommodate increased boating activity.While there will be no fee for non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks and paddleboards, they will be subject to inspection if identified as high risk, according to the town.TRPA OKs 2013 Tahoe fee scheduleThe Tahoe Regional Planning Agency this week approved a slightly modified fee schedule for its 2013 boat inspection.The schedule does not raise the fees for required invasive species inspections, but does include additional fees when boats with certain accessories require decontamination, as well as when deferred payments are required. The agency also approved shortened hours at inspection stations this week.The agency's Meyers, Spooner and Alpine inspection stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Each of these stations is scheduled to be open May 1 through Sept. 30.The agency's Northstar and Homewood inspection stations would be open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, and closed Monday through Wednesday under the staff proposal. The two inspection stations would be open from May 20 to Sept. 8.Learn more at www.tahoe boatinspections.com.
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