Nevada Assembly passes invasive species ban
CARSON CITY, Nev. – The Assembly Friday approved legislation designed to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species to Nevada’s lakes and rivers.
Assembly Bill 167 calls for development of a comprehensive programs to inspect watercraft and prevent the accidental introduction of species like the quagga mussels that have already reached Lake Mead in Southern Nevada.
Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams, D-Las Vegas, told the body Nevada is one of the few states that doesn’t have a law dealing with the issue. She said AB167 would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly or intentionally introduce a non-native species into Nevada’s waters. The second such offense would escalate to a Category E felony.
In addition, the person who intentionally introduced an invasive species would be liable for a minimum $25,000 and potentially $250,000 civil penalty.
The bill would fund prevention and inspection programs with a $10 annual fee per vessel.
Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, said he was in the position of having to oppose the bill because, the way it is written, “virtually every craft would be forced to pay this fee.”
Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said she has committed to work with Hansen on an amendment in the Senate to address that issue – “keeping in mind that aquatic species can be on the bottom of a kayak or canoe as well.”
Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, said he supports the measure because, with Nevada’s tourist economy, the state attracts a lot of out of state watercraft.
Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, said the bill is necessary because of such problems as the quagga mussels in Lake Mead.
“I hope we won’t come back in a couple of years and hear about that at Lake Tahoe,” he said.
Tahoe already has an inspection program for boats to prevent the introduction of non-native species.
AB167 passed 32-8 with two members absent. It goes to the Senate.