Now that spring has sprung and our attention turns to fishing and water sports, we remind you to do your part to keep Idaho’s pristine waterways free of aquatic invasive species.
An invasive species is a tiny organism that takes over an ecosystem beyond its natural habitat. The aquatic variety spreads very quickly once introduced to a new area, modifying the habitat, leaving rivers unnavigable, damaging irrigation pipes, beaches and vegetation, and eventually clogging the intake of hydropower plants, diminishing their output and driving up the cost of electricity for utilities like Idaho Falls Power that rely on hydro.
Idaho is one of four states in the U.S. without evidence of aquatic invasive species such as the quagga and zebra mussel. Their larvae were discovered in Montana in November, however, and three boats infested with mussels have already been discovered this year at highway inspection stations in the state.
Prevention is the key to protecting Idaho’s rivers and lakes.
In an effort to strengthen the fight to keep Idaho free of aquatic invasive species, the state recently increased the cost of the invasive species sticker fee for the boats of nonresidents.
That increase is set to take effect in 2018, and the revenue is intended to help staff boat-inspection stations and raise awareness of the pests and the damage they can inflict. To fund inspections this year, state lawmakers approved an emergency appropriation.
Anyone who works or plays around water – hunters, boaters, anglers, even dogs – can easily and unknowingly transport aquatic invasive species because of their ability to cling to hard surfaces, reproduce rapidly and live out of water for nearly a month.
There are a few simple steps you can take to keep them out of Idaho.
Before leaving any waterbody, always inspect equipment (boats, planes, trailers, decoy anchors, scuba gear and lures) for plants and animals.
Remove it on site and dispose of it in a trash receptacle or on high, dry ground where there is no danger of it washing into a waterbody.
Eliminate water from all equipment, including motors, live wells, wakeboard ballast tanks, boat hulls, scuba gear, bait buckets, waders, and boots.
Clean and dry anything that came in contact with water (boats, decoys, trailers, equipment, clothing, dogs, etc.).