SALEM, Ore. - Aquatic invasive species inspections are required for all watercraft entering Oregon if the inspection station is open, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife advised Tuesday. Located around Oregon, stations are open if large orange “Boat Inspection Ahead” signs are posted followed by “Inspection Required for All Watercraft.”
Inspecting boats coming into the state is the first line of defense in keeping aquatic invasive species such as zebra or quagga mussels, snails and aquatic plants out of Oregon. These invaders can cost millions in damage to water delivery systems and serious environmental damage to our rivers, lakes and native aquatic species.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife inspection stations in Ashland and Ontario are open year-round. Seasonal stations open Wednesday in Brookings, Klamath Falls, Lakeview and Umatilla.
Inspections for aquatic invasive species typically take just five to 10 minutes. Watercraft found with aquatic invasive species attached are decontaminated on the spot. Both boat inspections and decontaminations, if needed, are free.
“It’s important boaters stop at these stations, get a free boat inspection, and help keep aquatic invaders out of Oregon and Pacific Northwest waters,” said Rick Boatner, ODFW's invasive species supervisor. “People who stop at these stations are directly contributing to our success in keeping aquatic invasive zebra and quagga mussels, snails, and aquatic plants out of Oregon.”
All vehicles towing or carrying motorized or non-motorized boats, including canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and sailboats must stop. Boatner said anyone hauling a boat who doesn’t stop at an open station could receive a $110 fine. For boat safety inspections, contact your local county sheriff marine patrol or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permits are also required for most boaters in Oregon. Non-motorized boats (paddlecraft) 10 feet and longer require a permit as do all motorized boats. Permits are available at ODFW license sales agents or ODFW offices that sell licenses, at Marine Board dealers and online via Oregon State Marine Board or ODFW. Permit sales provide funding for the six boat inspection stations.
“Everyone who boats needs to make sure they always practice 'Clean, Drain, and Dry' before putting their boat in at another water body. And anglers should be vigilant about cleaning and drying all their gear after each use,” Boatner said.
ODFW technicians are specifically trained to inspect for aquatic invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels that can range in size from microscopic to up to two inches and attach themselves to many areas on boats that are hard to see. They can also live as long as 21 days out of water. New Zealand mud snails are just three to six millimeters long and easily attach themselves to boots, waders and fishing gear.
In 2018, technicians inspected 28,190 watercraft coming into Oregon and found 365 with aquatic invasive species. Aquatic vegetation, marine and freshwater organisms contaminated 354 of those boats and the remaining 11 had quagga or zebra mussels attached. Contaminated boats came from Arizona, California, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas.