LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Watercraft Inspection Program is a success
The Tahoe Resource Conservation District initiated the Watercraft Inspection Program as a pilot program in 2007 in direct response to the mounting threat of introduction of quagga and/or zebra mussels. Prior to the initiation of this program, Lake Tahoe had no protection from these devastating invaders. Since 2007, with help from our partners, the Tahoe boat inspection program has grown from a voluntary program into a mandatory program at all Lake Tahoe boat launching facilities. This year, on-highway inspection and decontamination stations were introduced to provide improved convenience for boaters, and the program has been expanded to include all water bodies on the California side of the Truckee River watershed, including Donner Lake and nearby reservoirs.
TRCD is proud to take a leadership role in protecting Lake Tahoe and nearby water bodies, and continually refines inspection protocols to provide improved protection and service. To date, TRCD has inspected over 40,000 boats and decontaminated over 1,500 high-risk vessels which otherwise would have entered Lake Tahoe without inspection. Most importantly, 15 boats with Aquatic Invasive Species physically present during inspection have been prevented from launching into Lake Tahoe.
In immediate response to the incident this summer in which a boater attempted to mislead inspectors, TRCD has made several improvements to program protocols, including improved communication between inspection stations and launch facilities, further reducing the risk of AIS introduction and boaters’ attempts to avoid proper inspection and decontamination.
While the possibility of boaters subverting the system is unacceptable, the fact remains that the aforementioned boater was caught because of the Watercraft Inspection Program, and there was no immediate danger of invasive species’ introduction. While the boater misled inspectors, the boat’s hull, motor and all storage compartments were still inspected by a professionally trained inspector before entering the lake, and no sign of AIS was present. The vessel was clean, drained and dry before launch.
We welcome feedback on any of our programs, including aquatic and terrestrial invasive species, erosion control, or our free residential BMP assistance program. Please contact us at 530-543-1501, e-mail info@TahoeRCD.org or visit http://www.TahoeRCD.org.
Public Outreach Specialist, TRCD