LINCOLN, Neb. – Boaters enjoying Nebraska’s public waters may be contacted by boat inspectors this summer. The goal of these inspections is to reduce the risk of aquatic invasive species (AIS) being spread across the state.
Inspections will include a survey of boat operators about their recent boating activities, followed by an examination of their watercraft. Participants will be given information on ways to prevent the spread of AIS. Inspection and survey results will be used to determine if a risk of spreading an invasive species, such as the zebra mussel, exists.
Zebra mussels are present in Offutt Base Lake at Bellevue, Lewis and Clark Lake and the entire Missouri River downstream of the Gavins Point Dam. Zorinsky Lake in Omaha is a suspect water body; no adult mussels have been found there following one positive veliger sample last summer.
Regulations state that boaters are not allowed to 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. On water bodies that have zebra mussel populations, baitfish must be disposed properly on the area before leaving.
To prevent the spread of AIS, boaters should adhere to the following Clean, Drain and Dry protocol 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 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.
— 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.
— 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.
This Aquatic Invasive Species Program is funded by an additional fee on resident boat registrations and a sticker that must be attached to all boats registered outside of Nebraska that launch from a Nebraska boat ramp or into a Nebraska water body.
For more information on all invasive species, visit neinvasives.gov.