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Boaters should clean, drain and dry to prevent spread of AIS

LINCOLN, Neb. – With summer’s arrival comes an increase in boating activity. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reminds boaters to be wary of destructive aquatic invasive species (AIS) and to prevent their spread by cleaning, draining and drying their watercraft.

Boaters may not launch or leave a boat ramp facility with any water present in the watercraft unless it is from a domestic water source. In addition, boaters are required to drain all lake or river water from the watercraft and remove any vegetation or mud from the boat and trailer before leaving a boat ramp.

Also while at the boat ramp, pull the plugs from bilge, live wells and watercraft to drain upon leaving a water body. Trim the motor up and down to facilitate the draining of water from the water pump. The transport of aquatic plant species such as curly leaf pondweed and Eurasian water milfoil can result in future boating and fishing access issues if introduced into a new water body. On water bodies that have zebra mussel populations, baitfish must be disposed properly on the area before leaving.

Zebra mussels are present in Offutt Base Lake at Bellevue, Lewis and Clark Lake, the entire Missouri River downstream of the Gavins Point Dam, and Lake Yankton, located just below the dam.

The following Clean, Drain and Dry protocol should be used after boating and before launching in a different water body:

— Rinse the boat and all equipment with hot tap water, ideally more than 140 degrees F, to kill AIS such as zebra and quagga mussels. Vinegar also can be used to kill young zebra and quagga mussels, especially in live wells.

— Spray the boat, live well, engine and trailer with a high-pressure sprayer.

— If washing a boat away from the water body you are leaving, do not allow runoff, which could have mussels, to enter a drainage.

— Dry the boat and all equipment for at least five days. Use a towel to speed the process, especially in the live well, and open all compartments.

Other reminders:

— Boaters on Nebraska public waters may be contacted by boat inspectors this summer. The goal of these voluntary inspections is to reduce the risk of AIS being spread across the state.

— Motorized watercraft registered outside of Nebraska are required to purchase and display an Aquatic Invasive Species Stamp before launching from any Nebraska boat ramp. For more information, or to purchase the stamp, visit OutdoorNebraska.org and click on Buy a Permit. Fees collected from this stamp and an additional fee on resident boat registrations fund a program to educate the public about AIS.

For more information on all invasive species, visit neinvasives.gov.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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