05-22-2008, 09:43 PM #1
DFG to scan boats along I-5 in California
DFG to scan boats along I-5 for invasive mussel species
By Thom Gabrukiewicz (Contact)
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
More about mussels
• For information about the mussels, call 1-866-440-9530.
• For more information on efforts to fight quagga and zebra mussel species, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/invasives/quaggamussel.
• To learn what boaters can do to avoid the spread of the mussels, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/invasives/quaggamussel/docs/quagga_boaters.pdf.
- Students explore local wetlands
- On The Calendar: May 21, 2008
- Prepare to have a berry good time in Happy Valley
Memorial Day weekend boaters could be turned away from north state waterways if their boats are found to harbor evidence of two invasive mussels species.
The Department of Fish and Game will conduct mandatory boat inspections along Interstate 5 near Redding between 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday to check for quagga and zebra mussels.
“The economic and environmental impact from these mussels is huge,” said Sherry Howell, a captain with the DFG’s law enforcement division in Redding. “It has the potential to be a very significant problem.”
In February, the California Legislature gave the DFG broad powers to stop and inspect boats across the state. DFG inspectors advise boaters to clean, drain and dry their vessels to avoid being turned away from lakes, reservoirs and rivers going into the weekend — and the traditional start to summer.
At the DFG checkpoint on I-5, vehicles pulling watercraft will be directed to exit at the California Highway Patrol Cottonwood Inspection Facility. As vehicles enter the scales, DFG wardens will ask boat owners a series of questions. Clean vessels will be released back onto the Interstate; boaters with suspect vessels will be inspected further by biologists and specially trained detection dogs.
Dirty vessels — those that have not been cleaned, drained and dried — could be quarantined.
“We don’t anticipate quarantining any vessels,” Howell said. “We just need to get the word out” and halt the spread of the mussels before they reach Lake Shasta, Whiskeytown Lake or other cold-water reservoirs and rivers in the north state.
Zebra mussels have long been a scourge of the Great Lakes since they were first found in the late 1980s — probably brought from its native eastern European waters in the ballast tanks of cargo ships. Quagga mussels followed, probably from the Ukraine. Both can live three to five days out of water in the summer — and up to 30 days in the winter.
Both mussels start small — smaller than a fingernail — but can become a huge problem. A congressional study of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes region found that the mussel cost the power industry $3.1 billion during 1993-1999, with an economic impact on businesses, communities and industry of $5 billion.
The mussels are filter feeders and strain nutrients out of the water that other, native small aquatic animals and plants rely on, according to Randy Benthin, a DFG senior fisheries biologist in Redding. The mussels can knock out the foundation of the food chain for many fish. The mussels also clog pipes and ruin boat motors as they infest a body of water.
The quagga mussel, a cousin of the zebra mussel, was discovered in California in January of 2007 at Lake Havasu. They’ve also been found in other reservoirs along the Colorado River and the worry is they could cling to boats and infest other bodies of water up and down the state.
“We don’t want them here,” Howell said.
To help prevent the spread of the mussels, boaters should inspect all exposed surfaces, wash boat hulls thoroughly, remove all plant material from the boat and trailer, drain all water, including lower outboard units, clean and dry livewells and bait buckets, and dispose of leftover baitfish in the trash.
Watercraft should be dried for at least five days between launches in different fresh bodies of water, Howell said.
Reporter Thom Gabrukiewicz can be reached at 225-8230 or at email@example.com.
05-24-2008, 09:26 AM #2
Boats inspected along I-5
Officials work to stop spread of 2 types of invasive mussels
By Dylan Darling (Contact)
Friday, May 23, 2008
Photo by Greg Barnette / Record Searchlight
Lt. Lynette Shimek, a canine supervisor and coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Game, leads a DFG dog, Ellen, around a boat Thursday at the California Highway Patrol’s Cottonwood Inspection Facility. Ellen was sniffing for invasive quagga and zebra mussels.
Photo by Greg Barnette / Record Searchlight
Aaron Burger, a state Department of Fish and Game warden, talks to people hauling a boat after pulling them over for not stopping at a boat-inspection checkpoint Thursday. At the checkpoint, wardens, DFG dogs and biologists were checking for invasive quagga and zebra mussels.
COTTONWOOD -- Flexing its law-enforcement muscle in an effort to keep invasive mussels out of north state waters, the state Department of Fish and Game on Thursday stopped vehicles hauling boats north on Interstate 5.
At the checkpoint, set up at the California Highway Patrol's Cottonwood Inspection Facility just south of the Shasta-Tehama county line, DFG wardens, biologists and dogs inspected boats to ensure they were free of quagga and zebra mussels.
"We are just trying to protect Lake Shasta," said Jordan Traverso, DFG spokeswoman.
The checkpoint also will be in effect today from 2 to 8 p.m. The mussels, likely stowaways in the ballast tanks of freighters from Eastern Europe, were first found in the Great Lakes in the late 1980s. Since then, they've spread to western U.S. waters, with the quagga mussel found early last year in Lake Havasu along the Colorado River.
DFG officials have increased inspections, education and other efforts to stop the mussels’ spread.
Boat owners coming from north of Sacramento, where waters are not known to have the mussels, were able to continue on after a quick talk with a warden who handed the driver a bag full of information on the mussels and boating. If the boats were coming from south of Sacramento, where mussels have been found in lakes and reservoirs, they went through a preliminary inspection.
None of the invasive mussels was found during the checkpoint. In all, 103 boats were checked Thursday and 37 got a closer look because they were from south of Sacramento. Seven boats ended up being examined by dogs.
Like dogs sniffing out drugs at the airport, the canines are trained to find quagga and zebra mussels. When they spot them, they sit and stare to show they’ve found the jackpot.
“We’ve trained them on live quagga,” said Lt. Christy Wurster, a DFG warden.
She said her dog, Wrigley, found dead quagga mussels on a boat that had been in a lake in Arizona.
Once Wrigley sniffed her way around three personal watercraft pulled behind Dennis Erman’s sports utility vehicle, the equipment was declared to be mussel free, and the San Jose man and his friends were clear to continue their trek to Lake Shasta for a weekend of water play.
“Sweet,” Erman said.
If mussels had been found aboard, he’d likely be in a different mood.
Wardens would give contaminated boat owners a paper that said their boats were quarantined, and officials were prepared to wrap a cable around the boat and through part of the trailer to keep it from being launched, said DeWayne Little, a DFG warden.
He said contaminated boats need to be brought out of the water and allowed to dry out for several days. The vessels have to pass a follow-up inspection before the cable is removed and the boats are free to float in any of the state’s waters.
“If there is water inside the boat, the mussels can live,” he said.
Reporter Dylan Darling can be reached at 225-8266 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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