Boat inspectors recently prevented two vessels from launching at Lake Tahoe and other
regional lakes, after discovering infestations of aquatic invasive species (AIS). During mandatory
inspections in Meyers and Truckee, California, inspectors found invasive mussels on both boats.
Inspectors intercepted the first boat at the inspection Station in Meyers, California. The powerboat was
coming to Lake Tahoe from Lake Pleasant, Arizona. Discovered on the boat’s hull were some 100
invasive mussels, many suspected to be alive. Inspectors treated and killed the mussels during the
decontamination process, but the infestation was so large that inspectors could not remove all the
mussels from the boat’s hull and other hard-to-reach areas. The watercraft was not allowed to launch.
In the second case, inspectors in Truckee, California intercepted a small nonmotorized sailboat that
contained approximately 20 dead mussels. The mussels were found inside of the sailboat’s keel locker
on the hull. The owner stated the boat had been out of the water for about four years, and that he had
unknowingly purchased the boat with the mussels already onboard.
“This is a stark reminder of why inspections are mandatory at Lake Tahoe. Aquatic invasive species pose
a serious threat and we rely on the hard work and diligence of our boat inspection team to protect Lake
Tahoe and other waterbodies,” said Chris Kilian, Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
- Both vessels were intercepted by inspectors before they could launch into local waterbodies.
- Both boats were quarantined for further inspection and decontamination.
- Regarding the boat from Arizona, the mussels lived through the 700-mile, 12-hour trip to Tahoe.
- Deemed to be a high-risk vessel, California Department of Fish and Wildlife required a mechanic to take apart the powerboat’s drive to remove potentially live mussels. The craft was returned to Arizona, and never launched in Lake Tahoe.
- The sailboat was eventually cleared from quarantine and allowed to launch at Donner Lake.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s aquatic resources program manager Dennis Zabaglo said, “In both
instances, inspectors on the front-line kept watercraft from potentially harming Lake Tahoe’s fragile
ecosystem. These incidents underscore the need for boaters to arrive at inspection stations with their
craft clean, drained, and dried.”
In the last 11 years, the Lake Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program has been successful in preventing
the spread of aquatic invasive species into Lake Tahoe and other waterbodies in the Region. Once
introduced, species like quagga and zebra mussels would have devastating consequences for the
ecosystem and economy.