Arrive at Lake Tahoe clean, drained and dry
LAKE TAHOE — The July 4th holiday and fireworks celebrations always bring a welcomed influx of boaters to the Lake Tahoe Basin.
With sunny skies and warm temperatures predicted for the 4th of July holiday week, boaters are urged to clean, drain and dry their boats before arriving at the roadside inspection stations in Tahoe to avoid delays and decontamination fees. As a reminder, all stations close at 5:30 p.m., so plan your travel accordingly.
Boat inspectors are required to inspect every boat for the presence of aquatic invasive species prior to launching in Lake Tahoe. Since May, inspectors have intercepted and decontaminated 13 boats containing invasive species bound for the waters of Lake Tahoe. Three of these boats contained invasive quagga mussels and another three boats were carrying unidentified snail species. Without natural predators, these invasive species pose serious threats to the ecology, recreation and local economies of the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Watercraft are the largest transporters of aquatic invasive species and the inspection program is critical to preventing their spread into Lake Tahoe and the surrounding water bodies. A new invasive species infestation in Lake Tahoe could have devastating impacts. Invasive species multiply quickly and can colonize on all underwater objects including docks, water pipes, filtration systems, piers, ramps and boats. They destroy fish habitat, impair boat engines and negatively impact water quality and recreation.
“The fact that several Tahoe-bound boats with invasive species present have already been intercepted this year underscores the importance of watercraft inspections and the strong work by Lake Tahoe boat inspectors with the Tahoe Resource Conservation District,” said Dennis Zabaglo, Aquatic Invasive Species program coordinator with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “It’s important that boaters do their part by arriving clean, drained and dry. Inspectors see more than one third of annual boat traffic during the summer holidays, so arriving clean, drained and dry will help save time and will also avoid a fee for decontamination.”
Quick tips for boaters visiting the Lake Tahoe Basin this summer:
- Visit TahoeBoatInspections.com for inspection locations, hours, fees and information about boat inspections and invasive species.
- Weekdays and mornings are typically less congested at roadside boat inspection stations. Friday evenings, Saturdays and holidays are typically the busiest.
- Returning Tahoe boats with a Lake Tahoe wire seal still affixed to the boat and trailer may head directly to a launch ramp to purchase a 2014 Tahoe Only inspection sticker.
- Fees vary by the size of the watercraft and are payable via MasterCard or Visa (no cash or check).
- Prior to arriving make sure your vessel is clean, drained and dry. Check that all systems are working, batteries are charged, the boat has gas in the tank and that you have the key to start the engine. Bring any specialized flushing adapters to the inspection station, as inspectors only have the most common types and sizes.
- If flushing your engine at home prior to inspection, make sure to drain all residual water. “Water is water.” If inspectors find water they are required to decontaminate.
- Annual watercraft inspection fees range from $35 for personal watercraft and vessels under 17 feet up to $121 for vessels larger than 39 feet. The annual “Tahoe Only” sticker fee is $30. An additional fee of $35 is charged for any boat requiring decontamination, with an additional $10 fee for ballast systems.
- Paddlers of kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized watercraft are not currently required to have their boats inspected, but are urged to visit TahoeKeepers.org to learn how to self-inspect boats and gear and receive a Tahoe Keepers sticker for free. Inspections and decontaminations for canoes, kayaks and paddleboards are also free at any Tahoe watercraft inspection station.
Visit TahoeBoatInspections.com or call 888-824-6267 for updates, details and information.
The Watercraft Inspection Program is part of the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Program, which is implemented by 40 public and private partner organizations including federal, state and local jurisdictions, research partners, public utility districts and private marinas. The state, federal and local agencies comprising the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinating Committee have provided leadership, direction and resources to fulfill this program’s mission of prevention, detection and control of aquatic invasive species in the Lake Tahoe Region.
The Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s mission is to promote the conservation and improvement of the Lake Tahoe Basin’s soil, water and related natural resources by providing leadership, information, programs and technical assistance to all land managers, owners, organizations and residents. The Tahoe RCD is a non-regulatory, grant funded, public agency that works with a variety of partner agencies to implement projects, programs and outreach which currently focus on erosion control, runoff infiltration, terrestrial and aquatic invasive species control and conservation landscaping.
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Tahoe Regional Planning Agency