The new year is just around the corner and there will be some new things you should know. I want to point out the role we all play in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. That role will include some additional funding to aid in those efforts”
Boaters to Help Nebraska Fight Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species
LINCOLN – Boaters in Nebraska, starting in 2016, will help the state’s effort to prevent the infestation and spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS).
The Aquatic Invasive Species Program was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 2015. An Aquatic Invasive Species Fee, to be collected from resident and nonresident boaters, will help fund the program. The fees will pay for education programs, prevention efforts such as monitoring water bodies, inspection and decontamination of boats, control of AIS populations, and other projects as needed.
AIS populations are present in Nebraska. Zebra mussels have been found in Lewis and Clark Lake, as well as the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam. A heavy infestation of Eurasian watermilfoil also was found recently at Goose Lake in Holt County.
A $5 Aquatic Invasive Species Fee will be added to the three-year boat registrations of Nebraska residents beginning in 2016. Nonresident boaters’ $15 fee is for the purchase an annual decal. That decal is required of every motorized watercraft registered outside of Nebraska before that craft may be launched from any Nebraska boat ramp.
The nonresident decal can be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org or at Nebraska Game and Parks Commission offices in Lincoln, Omaha, Norfolk, North Platte, Alliance, Kearney and Bassett. The receipt can be used as proof of purchase until the decal arrives in the mail. The 3-inch-square decal must be permanently affixed to the starboard and rearward side of the boat, on the outside of the hull above the water line.
An AIS is any exotic or non-native aquatic organisms that pose a significant threat to the aquatic resources, water supplies, or water infrastructure of this state. AIS may cause significant ecological problems because they have been introduced into habitats in which there are no natural pathogens, parasites or predators. AIS can also impact recreational opportunities, municipalities, and water supplies.
Find answers to frequently asked questions about the Aquatic Invasive Species Program and fees by visiting: http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/2015/12/aquatic-invasisked-questions/.
Learn more about AIS and ways to prevent an infestation by visiting neinvasives.com.
Non-resident boaters especially will need to be aware of their need to purchase the new aquatic invasive species decals.
Here is a list of “frequently asked questions”:
Aquatic Invasive Species Nebraska Stamp – Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat is the fee structure for the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program?
• Motorized watercraft registered in Nebraska will have an additional $5 fee to their 3 year registration fee.
• Motorized watercraft registered in any other state will be required to obtain a $15 AIS stamp annually.
What will the AIS stamp fees be used for?
Fees collected, as authorized with the passage of LB 142 by the 2015 Legislature, will fund the newly created Aquatic Invasive Species Program in Nebraska. These fees will pay for programs to educate the public about AIS, prevention efforts to keep AIS from being introduced into Nebraska such as monitoring waters across the state, inspection and decontamination of conveyances, treatment for AIS populations, and other AIS projects as needed.
Why are only boaters being charged fees to support the AIS program?
Watercraft are the primary means that AIS, especially zebra and quagga mussels, are transported and therefore are the greatest risk for spreading AIS to and within Nebraska. There are confirmed waters in Nebraska that have invasive mussel populations and other AIS. All watercraft present a risk for transporting AIS. It is very important for all boaters and water-based recreationalist to follow the Clean, Drain, Dry protocol.
When and where can I get a nonresident AIS boat stamp?
On or before January 1, 2016 nonresident boat owners will be able to purchase this annual $15 stamp ($13 plus a $2 issuing fee) at Nebraska Game and Parks Commission permitting offices, over the web (OutdoorNebraska.org) or through permit agents like Walmart.
What happens if I lose the boat stamp?
If you lose a stamp, you will be required to purchase a new one. Duplicate stamps will not be available.
How long are AIS stamps valid for?
Nonresident AIS boat stamps are valid for one calendar year; they will expire on December 31 for each year purchased. Resident boat registrations (which will include the AIS fee) are good for three years.
When will I have to start paying the new AIS fee?
Starting January 1, 2016, residents renewing or registering their boats will pay the new AIS fee; nonresidents will be required to have the new AIS stamp affixed to the boat prior to launching in Nebraska waters.
Where do I place the AIS stamp on my watercraft?
For all nonresident watercraft launching into Nebraska waters an AIS stamp must be displayed on the starboard (right) and rearward side of the boat and above the water line so it can be observed while in the water.
Why don’t residents need a decal on their boat?
Residents pay the AIS fee when they register their boat and provide that proof when affixing the boat registration number on the boat.
Does the AIS stamp indicate a watercraft has been inspected?
No, an AIS decal is not proof a watercraft has been inspected. The stamp is a funding mechanism for the AIS program.
Is it a violation not to have an AIS stamp on a non-resident motorized watercraft?
Yes, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission regulations require that all nonresident motorized watercraft have an AIS stamp prior to launching on or entering into the waters of the State.
When a watercraft with a current nonresident AIS stamp changes ownership, does the new owner need to purchase another AIS stamp?
No, the AIS stamp remains attached to the watercraft and is valid for the remainder of the calendar year.
Do I need a nonresident AIS stamp to launch my boat on border waters such as the Missouri River?
If the boat is launched from a Nebraska boat ramp facility an AIS stamp will be required.
If you have not familiarized yourself with the host of aquatic nuisance species that are a threat to our aquatic resources right now, please take some time to do so, Nebraska Invasive Species–Aquatics.
And never forget to Clean, Drain, and Dry!