LAKE TAHOE — Boat inspectors intercepted more than 35 vessels harboring invasive species from entering Lake Tahoe during the 2013 boating season, officials said.
In all, 4,221 watercraft were decontaminated last year at roadside inspection stations around the lake, according to statistics released Monday by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District. Of those, 36 were infested with either aquatic invasive plants, mussels or snails.
Inspections also took place at Fallen Leaf and Echo lakes, said Patrick Stone, Senior Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
“We’re very happy with the watercraft inspectors’ diligence and accuracy,” he said in a statement. “Monitoring … confirmed that quagga and zebra mussels have not established in our lakes. These results are a credit to the inspection program and boaters’ efforts to arrive clean, drained and dry.”
Officials performed more than 7,000 new inspections last year, accounting for half of the more than 14,000 vessels that launched in the Tahoe region, according to TRCD.
TRCD, in partnership with TRPA, instituted boat inspections in 2008 to prevent the introduction of invasive species like quagga and zebra mussels into the lake. The locust-like mollusks could wreak havoc on Tahoe’s environment and economy, according to previous reports.
Decontaminations include a vigorous spraying of hot water, similar to a pressure washer, on a boat’s hull, motor and other areas until the threat is eliminated.
Watercraft inspectors also staffed Boca, Prosser and Stampede reservoirs in 2013 and partnered with the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District to monitor boats at Donner Lake, where inspectors screened more than 3,500 vessels.
Further, prevention efforts for more than 7,000 paddlers occurred at U.S. Forest Service kiosks, boat ramps and at Fallen Leaf Lake in 2013, according to TRCD.
Information on Lake Tahoe boat inspections, including hours of operation for boat launches and snow closures, is available at TahoeBoatInspections.com or by calling 888-824-6267.
MUSSELS DISCOVERED IN LAKE PIRU
Invasive mussels, believed to be of the quagga species, recently were discovered in Lake Piru in Ventura County, according to a statement this week by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Officials are working with U.S. Conservation District and Lake Piru Recreation Area staff to contain the infestation, which was reported Dec. 18 at the lake located north of the greater Los Angeles area.
Quagga mussels were found attached to a Lake Piru patrol boat, and several additional mussels were subsequently found on devices deployed in the lake for the purpose of detecting mussels and on the shoreline, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The mussels range in size from one half to three quarter inches, officials said. Lake Piru Recreation Area staff are working to determine the full extent of the infestation.
“This discovery marks the first time quagga or zebra mussels have been found in a Southern California waterbody that does not receive water from the Colorado River,” according to a Fish and Wildlife press release.
Quagga mussels were first detected in the Colorado River system in January 2007 and were later found in San Diego and Riverside counties. According to the state, they are now known to be in 26 waters in California. Zebra mussels were discovered in San Justo Reservoir in San Benito County in January 2008.