Man could face $5,000 fine for allegedly evading Tahoe boat inspections
STATELINE – A man who officials say purposefully evaded Lake Tahoe boat inspectors this summer after they recommended his vessel for decontamination could face a $5,000 fine.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staff will recommend the fine at the Wednesday, Aug. 25, governing board meeting, said TRPA spokesman Jeff Cowen.
The board’s legal committee is set to talk about the item at 8:30 a.m. at TRPA’s offices in Stateline.
The man, identified in a TRPA staff report as Mark Kanev, could not be reached and his phone number is not listed.
All boats are required to be inspected before they enter Lake Tahoe in an effort to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering the lake. Quagga and zebra mussels are of a particular concern to the reason because they could devastate Lake Tahoe’s ecology.
Watercraft decontamination is required for any vessel that is not clean, drained and dry, or that came from a known infested water body, said TRPA Spokesman Jeff Cowen.
According to the TRPA, Kanev tried to launch his boat June 28 at Cave Rock when he told inspectors that the boat was last in Sand Hollow Reservoir in Utah, which is a mussel-infested body of water according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
Inspectors found water in the boat and ordered a full decontamination, which was scheduled for July 1. When Kanev did not arrive for his scheduled decontamination, TRCD inspectors attempted to contact him, unsuccessfully, according to the TRPA.
After contacting various inspection sites, TRCD staff learned Kanev’s boat had been inspected at the Meyers Boat Inspection Station later on June 28. There, Kanev told inspectors his boat had been in Lake Powell (located on the Utah/Arizona border), which is not mussel-infested, and omitted any reference to Sand Hollow Reservoir.
Inspectors found the boat to be clean and sealed the vessel, allowing the boater to launch at Meeks Bay on the lake’s West Shore.
Using the vessel’s description and registration numbers, TRPA watercraft patrol located the vessel moored in Rubicon Bay on July 1 and alerted the California Department of Fish and Game. Wardens assisted in removing the boat from the lake.
The boat did not come from Sand Hollow, but from Lake Powell, which is not infested with quagga mussels, Cowen said. The discrepancy arose because Kanev is not the only operator of the boat, Cowen said.
TRPA staff has conducted DNA tests on the boat and the waters where the boat was located for quagga mussels and no traces were found, said Julie Regan, TRPA communications and legislative affairs chief.
The TRCD, which is in charge of administering the boat inspections in collaboration with TRPA, has closely monitored the portions of Lake Tahoe the boat visited and will continue to supervise those areas, said Kim Boyd, TRCD Invasive Species Program manager.
Despite not finding quagga mussels, TRPA officials are taking the incident seriously.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for the threat of aquatic invasive species at Lake Tahoe,” said Ted Thayer, TRPA Aquatic Invasive Species Program manager. “This case shows that the inspection program is working and has given us an opportunity to improve it to ensure boaters cannot evade inspectors.”
As a result of the incident, officials are changing the way they conduct mandatory aquatic invasive species evaluations.
Immediately after the incident, changed their watch list procedures, Boyd said. Now, when a boat is scheduled for decontamination, that boat’s registration information will immediately go on a watch list, which is available to all inspection stations throughout the basin as well as private marinas.
The TRPA is also in the process of purchasing additional decontamination machines which will double the capacity at inspection stations to avoid any multi-day delays between the original inspection and the decontamination process, said Julie Regan, TRPA spokeswoman.
“The new (decontamination) machines will be operational for testing by the end of this summer and fully operational by the spring of 2011,” said Regan
Funding will come from the overall Aquatic Invasive Species Program budget.
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