Lake Tahoe boat inspections for aquatic invaders set to begin |

Lake Tahoe boat inspections for aquatic invaders set to begin

Julie Brown / Sierra Sun

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune A sign installed at the Tahoe Keys Marina informs boaters of required inspections for invasive species.

As soon as this weekend, boaters should expect to answer a series of questions and, if warranted, have their vessel inspected for invasive mussels if they want to launch into Lake Tahoe’s blue waters.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is looking to amend its code of ordinances this month to make it unlawful for a boat to enter the lake with aquatic invasive species attached to the vessel’s hull, engine or bilge.

The proposed amendment would require that all boats wishing to enter Tahoe’s waters first undergo an inspection at public boat launches across the basin.

If any invasive species is found, the vessel will not be allowed into Tahoe’s waters until it is decontaminated. Four portable boat-wash stations likely will be located on each shore of the lake.

Failure to comply could result in the boat owner facing a $5,000 fine, according to TRPA documentation.

“The reason we’re doing this is to protect the lake and keep it as pristine as possible,” said TRPA spokesman Dennis Oliver. “We know that the reason people come here is that it is a special place. … We expect that people will cooperate with (the inspections) and be fine with it, for the most part.”

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The Advisory Planning Commission will review the code’s language today at its meeting in South Lake Tahoe. The proposed amendment then will be presented to the TRPA Governing Board for approval tentatively at its meeting later this month.

“This is more about getting it into the code, so our code is consistent with what we’re doing,” Oliver said.

On-site checks of vessels will begin Friday at boat launches throughout the basin. Inspection efforts will be increased starting Memorial Day weekend and maintained throughout the busy summer months.

“They’re basically trying to pinpoint where the boat has been and what the most recent history of use is going to be,” Oliver said.

The California Department of Fish and Game assigned a mussel-sniffing dog to work in the Tahoe Basin this summer. The canine will be roving among the different boat launches.

“These dogs can be trained to lock onto a person’s scent. They can be trained to look for substances or they can be trained to actually sniff out the quagga mussel,” Oliver said. “And this dog has been trained to do this.”

A TV spot educating viewers about aquatic invasive species and notifying them of the inspections started airing on Charter Communications cable stations this week.