SALEM, Ore. - "So far so good, but we've got a long way to go," state officials say about the ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and keeping new ones from entering the state.
Even key legislators such as Representative Caddy McKeown see the progress being made -and see that more needs to be done to protect our waterways.
That's why the Marine Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) work in tandem to administer the statewide Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Program, where the Marine Board administers the financial aspects and ODFW implements statewide inspection stations.
Manually powered boats (paddle and oar) 10 feet long and longer are required to purchase a permit and carry it when operating the watercraft. Non-resident paddlecraft operators are also required to purchase a permit and carry it when boating in Oregon waters.
The Marine Board sells both an annual and two-year Tyvek tags for paddlecraft and can be purchased through the Marine Board's office in Salem or online through the Marine Board's new storefront. Permits expire on December 31 of the current year for the one year permit or December 31 of 2015, depending on which permit is purchased. Out-of-state permits for non-motorized boats are also $5.
"What's nice about purchasing your AIS permit through the Marine Board is boaters aren't charged a processing fee," says Glenn Dolphin, Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program Coordinator for the Marine Board. "The permit is a flat, $5 for a one year and $10 for two years."
Funds are dedicated and used only for the aquatic invasive species prevention program. Annual permits for paddlers can also be purchased from any ODFW license agents for $7. Oregon's registered motorboat owners already contribute to the AIS program through a $5 surcharge on their boat registration fee. Out-of-state permits for motor boats are $20.
In 2013, revenue generated from AIS Prevention Permit totaled $724,175. State, county and local law enforcement agents issued 1,281 warnings and 569 citations related to AIS violations. Additionally, law enforcement supported ODFW watercraft inspectors with boater compliance on 15 different days resulting in 30 citations issued for failure to stop at a watercraft inspection station. Of the 7,441 watercraft inspected in 2013, 279 were contaminated with aquatic invaders, 228 with aquatic vegetation and 17 watercraft were contaminated with either quagga or zebra mussels originating from Arizona, Nevada, Ohio and Utah. A complete report is available for download at http://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/Clean/docs/AISPP_Annual_Report.pdf.
Boat inspection stations are now open and are focusing on highways entering Oregon. Travelers entering the state are asked to look for "Boat Inspection Ahead" signs and be prepared to pull off the highway for inspection. An inspection takes about 10 minutes if boats are free of aquatic species. If a boat is found to be contaminated with aquatic invaders, it will be cleaned by a mobile decontamination team. All trailered boats and paddlecraft are required to stop for an AIS inspection when traveling past an open station.
In 2009, the Oregon Legislature passed legislation that created a self-supporting aquatic invasive species prevention program. The program is designed to educate boaters about the threat of aquatic invasive species and what boaters can do to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species that are already in Oregon, like the New Zealand mud snail. Revenue generated by the permit fee is used for inspection/detection, decontamination, law enforcement and education efforts.
For more information about the aquatic invasive species prevention permit program, visit http://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/Clean/pages/index.aspx.