TRUCKEE, Calif. — People launching motorized boats into Truckee water bodies must pay fees as part of a mandatory watercraft inspection likely starting at the end of May.
On Tuesday, town council unanimously reinstated a suspended program from last summer to help prevent introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.
“Once you get an aquatic invasive species in your lake, it can be difficult or impossible to contain the problem,” said Dan Shaw, environmental scientist with the California State Parks. “Your best option has been taken off the table — that is don’t let these species in the door in the first place.”
Under the mandate, all motorized watercraft entering Truckee waters — with a focus on Donner Lake — must be inspected and receive a passing sticker before launch. A questionnaire will also need to be filled out prior to or during the inspection.
Vessels that fail inspection will not be allowed to launch unless they are decontaminated — available at Northstar and Alpine Meadows as part of Lake Tahoe’s inspection program — or submit to quarantine.
Non-motorized watercraft — sailboats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, among others — will not require inspection. Inspections at the Truckee River and Glenshire Pond (the other two bodies of water in the ordinance) would only be conducted if issues arise or complaints are received, since they are restricted to non-motorized use, according to the town.
The Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District board of directors will vote on whether the district should become the inspection body at its Jan. 23 meeting.
“We hear the same potential invasive species over and over,” said Truckee resident Steve Urie, who voiced opposition to the mandate. “The reality is the science simply doesn’t support it.”
Lisa Holan, a Truckee resident and aquatic ecologist at UNR, disagrees.
“To just dismiss the experiences of so many other communities across the whole North America as irrelevant because they’re not our specific unique lakes, I think is very dangerous,” she said. “Every lake is unique, and that didn’t protect those lakes.”
According to recent study conducted by the Truckee River Watershed Council and Tahoe Resource Conservation District, a “medium to high risk” exists for establishment of invasives in area water bodies, reported Dan Olsen, animal services/code compliance manager for the town.
Invasives such as Eurasian watermilfoil, New Zealand mudsnails and Asian clams are already in local area water bodies, according to staff.
In its first year, the program is estimated to cost $25,000, with between $26,000 and $35,000 coming in annually from fees.