Editorial: TRPA board should approve mandatory boat inspections
According to a story in Tuesday’s Tribune from our sister paper, the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, local, state and federal agencies have invested $1.3 million to keep invasive mussels out of Lake Tahoe.
The effort began May 16, when 13 inspectors manned public and private boat launches around the lake. The inspectors were stationed to ensure that no quagga or zebra mussels were attached to boats.
The catch? Boat owners had to approve the checks.
Given the potential catastrophic effect the invasive mussels could have on Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem, it’s foolhardy to allow boaters to choose whether they’ll allow their boats to be inspected.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board will address the issue today when it considers an amendment that subjects all boaters to mandatory inspections.
Despite the good intentions of most boaters, mandatory inspections are vital.
If the board passes the measure, all boats will face inspection if asked or face a $5,000 fine if they launch without complying with the requested inspection.
But here’s another catch: If inspectors are not present, boaters may launch without inspection. According to the Bonanza, the inspections are the first line of defense to prevent the mussels from entering the lake.
Though inspectors will be stationed at all public and some private launch sites on the lake, it’s logistically and financially impractical for inspectors to be at every launch site at all times. So it’s up to boaters to be responsible and proactive, and take it upon themselves to thoroughly check their own boats.
To bolster this voluntary compliance, a collaboration of agencies – including the TRPA, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the California Department of Fish and Game and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District – are waging a public education campaign to educate boaters about the dangers of the mussels.
“We are relying heaving on the public’s want and desire to keep these mussels out,” said Dennis Zabaglo, TRPA senior environmental specialist and watercraft program manager.
We’re confident most boat owners will do their best to protect their lake, and we applaud all the agencies for their concerted effort to educate and inform.
Relying, though, on 100 percent voluntary cooperation makes no sense. The TRPA Governing Board should require mandatory inspections.