LINCOLN – Cooperation from boaters and anglers is urgently needed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species following the discovery of zebra mussels in Lewis and Clark Lake in northeast Nebraska.
Earlier this week, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks found adult zebra mussels in a marina on the South Dakota side of the lake. Subsequently, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission found zebra mussels on boat ramps at Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area’s (SRA) Weigand Marina. Mussels also have been found in the Missouri River just below Gavins Point Dam.
Game and Parks personnel are working with officials from South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, several federal agencies and local authorities to increase education on aquatic invasive species, increase boat inspections and enforcement of regulations, along with monitoring to determine the distribution of the mussels.
The impacts of zebra mussels on the Lewis and Clark and Missouri River are hard to predict, but they have been known to have significant economic and ecological consequences. It is important to prevent their spread to even more waters used by boaters and anglers who had recently been on these zebra mussel-contaminated waters.
Anglers and boaters should take the following precautions to prevent the introduction or spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species:
— By law, a boat that has been on a water body may not leave a launch area with water still present in any compartment, equipment or container that may hold water. Drain water on site. Dump any baitfish in the trash or at a fish-cleaning station on site.
— By law, a boat or trailer may not leave a launch area with any aquatic vegetation from that water body still attached.
— By law, a boat may not arrive at or leave any water body in Nebraska with water other than from a domestic source, except for fire-fighting purposes.
— Clean, drain and dry your boat. Zebra mussels can survive out of water for up to two weeks. After boating in infested water and before launching your boat in a different water body: pressure wash the boat with hot water (preferably more than 140 degrees F) and rinse equipment with hot water. Run water out of the lower unit upon exiting the water body. Spraying the boat and live wells with vinegar and letting it soak for 20 minutes can also kill zebra mussels. The best way to prevent the spread is to allow the boat, all compartments and equipment to dry for at least five days before launch into a different water body.
Lewis and Clark SRA is located 7 miles north of Crofton in Knox County.
For more information on aquatic invasive species, visit neinvasives.com.