Lake Tahoe inspectors intercept 2 boats infested with invasive mussels | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe inspectors intercept 2 boats infested with invasive mussels

Staff report

Inspectors recently prevented two boats carrying invasive mussels from transporting the creatures to Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake.

The mussels were discovered at mandatory inspection stations located in Meyers and Truckee, according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The first infestation was discovered in a powerboat coming to Tahoe from Lake Pleasant, Arizona. Inspectors at the Meyers station found approximately 100 invasive mussels, according to TRPA. Many of the mussels were believed to be alive, meaning they survived the 700-mile, 12-hour trip to Tahoe.

The mussels were killed during the decontamination process, but the infestation was so large that inspectors could not remove all of them. California Department of Fish and Wildlife even required a mechanic to take apart the powerboat’s drive to remove potentially live mussels.

The watercraft was not allowed to launch.

In the second case, inspectors in Truckee intercepted a small, non-motorized sailboat that contained approximately 20 dead mussels. The mussels were found inside of the sailboat’s keel locker on the hull, according to TRPA. The owner told inspectors the boat had been out of the water for about four years, and that he had unknowingly purchased it with the mussels onboard.

The sailboat was eventually cleared from quarantine and allowed to launch at Donner Lake.

“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,” Dennis Zabaglo, TRPA’s aquatic resources program manager, said in a press release.

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 regional waterbodies, according to TRPA

Invasive species like quagga and zebra mussels pose an ongoing threat to Tahoe — one that would have devastating consequences for the ecosystem and economy.

“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,” Chris Kilian, aquatic invasive species program manager with the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, said in a press release.