Lake Tahoe boat inspections, fees set for summer | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe boat inspections, fees set for summer

Matthew Renda
Sierra Sun

LAKE TAHOE and#8212; A local agency approved recreational boating measures to ensure Lake Tahoe remains clearly blue, and relatively quiet.

During the Wednesday, March 24, regular meeting of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, members of the governing board approved the implementation of the Blue Boating Program which includes an enhanced watercraft inspection, certification and sticker program, boater education and outreach and continued monitoring.

and#8220;We want to have the cleanest lake we have while allowing for boating which is certainly an important recreational component on Lake Tahoe,and#8221; said board member Mara Bresnick, the California Assembly Speaker’s appointee.

The program will emphasize compliance with:

and#8226; Noise and No-Wake-Zone standards;

and#8226; Clean bilge practices;

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and#8226; Sewage management; and

and#8226; Engine tuning for altitude.

Boats that comply with these standards will be given a sticker with a requirement to display it prominently. Boaters on the lake without the sticker will be subject to heavy fines.

However, TRPA spokesman said the upcoming 2010 boating season will not stress enforcement, as boaters not in compliance will receive a warning instead of the financial penalty. Repeat offenders will be subject to fines.

Initial controversy centered on noise standards, with board member Kathay Lovell saying vintage wooden boats may not comply with new noise restrictions, but should receive an exemption.

The board gave TRPA staff direction to consider a definition of vintage boats and an exemption.

The board established Emerald Bay as a No-Wake zone.

The new blue boating program policies dovetails with the TRPA’s existing restrictions regarding inspections for Aquatic Invasive Species.

and#8220;The TRPA has the most aggressive boat inspection program in the country,and#8221; said Joanne Marchetta, TRPA executive director.

Fears about the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels are increasing, after the environmentally detrimental species established a stronghold in Lake Mead in Southern Nevada, in 2008 and continue to procreate at an alarming rate.

Zebra and quagga mussels have become a huge problem in the Great Lakes area, attaching themselves to intake and outtake pipes, costing lakeside industries millions of dollars annually.

Ted Thayer, Wildlife Program Manager for the TRPA, said while the invasive mussels are a prominent reason for the agency’s stringent inspection policies, there are other species that are cause for concern.

and#8220;New Zealand mud snails and plants such as hydrilla are on our radar screen,and#8221; said Thayer. and#8220;The threat is imminent.and#8221;

The blue boating program mandates the TRPA install an annual fee system instead of the current per-use fee structure.

Annual blue boating fees will range from $10 to $50 dollars. When combined with Aquatic Invasive Species inspection fees, boaters will be charged $20 to $200 depending on whether the boat is used exclusively in Lake Tahoe, or whether it travels to other lakes, thereby necessitating further invasive species checks. The owner of an average size and horsepower boat would typically pay $65 to $75 for one full year of boating, or $30 to $40 if the boat is Lake Tahoe only.

Boaters can pay a one-time and#8220;in and out feeand#8221; if boaters plan on traveling to and from Lake Tahoe. However, those boaters will have to wait in lines for inspection when attempting to reenter Tahoe waters.

Non-motorized boats will not have to pay a fee.