Voluntary boat inspections under way at Donner Lake, regional reservoirs
TRUCKEE, Calif. – While much regional attention involving aquatic invasive species is directed toward preventing introduction of dangerous invaders such as quagga and zebra mussels into the famed waters of Lake Tahoe, officials are funding inspection operations at other alpine lakes in the Sierra.
For the second consecutive season, boat inspections and education relating to aquatic invasive species will take place at Donner Lake and Boca, Prosser and Stampede reservoirs through September 30, said Peter Brumis, spokesman for the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, which operates inspection stations on Tahoe and the aforementioned water bodies.
However, unlike Lake Tahoe, where boaters must undergo inspections and can be fined thousands of dollars for willfully misleading inspectors, the inspections carried out at the other alpine lakes are voluntary, Brumis said.
“We are confident that voluntary inspections reduce the risk of AIS introduction into these water bodies,” Brumis said. “We could never be 100 percent confident, even if inspections were mandatory.”
The Truckee area inspection program places a higher emphasis on education and compliant boaters who assume personal responsibility for their equipment and the health of the water bodies on which they recreate.
“Public support for the program has been very positive, with the great majority of boaters participating and voicing their support,” Brumis said.
Brumis explained that implementing mandatory inspections would be cost prohibitive, as determining and limiting access points to the separate and unique water bodies would be expensive.
Tahoe RCD has been awarded about $296,000 for AIS prevention and boater education in and around the Truckee-area water bodies for 2011, Brumis said. Part of that money is allocated to data collection meant to assess the current presence or absence of aquatic invasive species in the water bodies.
“As we become more informed as to the specific risks, we’re able to enter into a dialogue with stakeholders and land managers to determine the best options for the future,” Brumis said.
Also, Tahoe RCD is not a regulatory agency, Brumis said. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency develops and implements the inspection program on Lake Tahoe and Tahoe RCD partners with TRPA to conduct the physical inspections.
Regarding Truckee area water-bodies, land managers include Nevada County, Placer County, town of Truckee, California Nature Conservancy and various homeowner associations, Brumis said.
David Kean, program coordinator for the Truckee Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program, said boaters must take it upon themselves to ensure their watercraft will not contribute to a catastrophic introduction of invasive species.
“Boaters are encouraged to ‘Clean, Drain and Dry’ their watercraft, including motorboats, kayaks and canoes, prior to launching into new waterbodies,” he said.
Tahoe RCD inspectors logged more than 7,400 Truckee area boater interactions, including inspections and boater education events in 2010. Surveys taken during this period reflect that 85 percent of those queried agree that inspections are an important component in stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species, Brumis said.
Kim Boyd, AIS program manager at Tahoe RCD, said her agency’s goals include establishing a stronger inspection presence in the Truckee area, analyzing the risk of invasive species establishment and a development of management techniques aimed at combating invaders should an incursion occur.
In alignment with these goals, Tahoe RCD has opened a new office in the Tin Can Building in Truckee, located at 10116 Jibboom St. For more information, visit TruckeeBoatInspections.com or contact David Kean at 530-587-4911.