This is a personal piece from the daughter of one of Tahoe RCD’s dive contractors. Please enjoy as much as we did!—AIS Program Staff
By Tyler Murphy
My name is Tyler, and I love Lake Tahoe. Its beauty is truly a gift, and its people are wonderful. It’s my lake, my home, and I have a responsibility to protect it.
To do that, the Aquatic Invasive Species Project is my best friend. There are other invasive species in Lake Tahoe, but the Eurasian watermilfoil might as well be its biggest menace. A lot of people say it looks like seaweed, but the plant is its own. As it grows, it creates a new, different, bad Lake Tahoe, eliminating the one we know. Being a potential threat to swimmers, and destroying Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem, it has to be blown out of the water, literally. That’s where my family comes in.
Together my mom, dad, little sister, and I have created our own reputation in Lake Tahoe. A typical day sees us work morning, noon, and night. 5:00am is the wake-up call, getting our butts out the front door, while half asleep, and with everything we need for the day packed in the Bronco, we finally get on the road. We wait for Fireball (the sun) to come up and I do some school work while my little sister makes us laugh with all her goofiness. Work? Oh ya… Pulling, pushing, yanking, tying, tiring, fighting against the current and fatigue to get these weeds out of the water, while our bodies are both sore and aching. After we’re done for the day, Dad fights to stay awake to drive us home while we snooze in the back. Then it’s the bag-drag, which is unloading the car and starting the laundry. By now it’s dark and Dad soaks his muscles in a hot bath with a cold beer. My little sister and I watch TV while Mom cooks dinner. Occasionally dinner consists of eating while struggling to stay awake. When we finally get to bed, sometimes we’re so tired we can’t sleep.
I believe Emerald Bay is the most beautiful place in Lake Tahoe. There were doubts that we could get the infestation down to zero percent in less than five years. In 2013 Emerald Bay was declared weed free. We finished in three years. I am so proud of the work we do.
I have learned so much from Mom and Dad. We help out on the dive sites with tasks like air drops (putting barriers in the water for deployment), pulling barriers out, and paperwork. It’s a good thing my sister and I are both certified SCUBA divers, in a few more years we’ll be able to dive with them. In the three years I’ve volunteered, I’ve learned from Dad a little bit how to drive the boat, I’ve learned how to put the dredge together (a machine that sucks up weeds underwater, it’s really loud and has a lot of nuts and bolts). I’ve also attended public forums with Dad about Tahoe, and have helped out when he teaches classes at schools. Educating my peers is a very satisfying feeling.
You can hear about Tahoe from people and places, but the real awesomeness happens when you see it and feel it for yourself. I love being at the lake, working on the project just gives us an excuse to come every day. The work is backbreaking and hard, but I love it. It brings on a good tired. I love seeing all the different people that come to enjoy the lake, and the wildlife I see and encounter is amazing! Fish, Ducks, Beavers, Osprey, Bears (from a distance), Tadpoles- and so much more.
Lake Tahoe is beautiful and every day is a new day. I love the fact that I’m protecting Lake Tahoe at 15 years old, and if I can to it, you can do it too.
Surface waters within Sierra County will receive protection from aquatic invasive species introduction as a result of County Ordinance 1041. Under this ordinance, boaters will be required to complete a watercraft self-inspection prior to launching in surface waters of Sierra County starting in May, 2014. Water bodies affected by this ordinance include Independence Lake, Lake of the Woods, Webber Lake, Milton Reservoir, Jackson Meadows Reservoir, Stampede Reservoir and all Lakes Basin water bodies, including Gold Lake (2 launches), Lower Salmon Lake, Lower Sardine Lake, Upper Sardine Lake, Packer Lake, Snag Lake, Upper Salmon Lake, Lower Salmon Lake, Goose Lake, and Haven Lake.
If established in local waters, aquatic invasive species (AIS), such as quagga mussels, Asian clams and Eurasian Watermilfoil, could degrade aquatic ecosystems, inhibit recreation, damage infrastructure and equipment and cause depreciation in property values. “I applaud the Board of Supervisors for having the vision to be one of the first rural counties to adopt a local AIS inspection ordinance and program that will afford protection to the County’s waterways and further protect this valuable environmental and economic resource”, said Tim Beals, Director of Public Works. Bob Latta, Chairman of the County Fish and Wildlife Commission states “this is a very high priority for the Commission and we anticipate positive public reception to this program that allows boaters to take responsibility for their vessels.”
For the 2014 season, Sierra County will partner with the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) to develop and implement the County’s watercraft self-inspection program. Since 2009, the Tahoe RCD has gained experience and developed expertise in the creation and management of watercraft inspection programs in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee regions.
For the full press release, click here.
Roadside stations for inspections and decontaminations of motorized boats and watercraft are officially opening for the 2014 boating season.
Locations, hours of operation and opening dates are as follows:
Opening Thursday May 1st:
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., 7 days a week
- Meyers: at the junction of US 50 and Highway 89
- Spooner Summit: at the junction of US 50 and Highway 28 in Nevada
- Alpine Meadows: Highway 89, off Alpine Meadows Road north of Tahoe City
Opening Thursday May 22nd:
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Thursday-Sunday, CLOSED Monday-Wednesday
- Northstar: Highway 267, at Northstar Drive south of Truckee
Please note that the Homewood inspection station is closed this season.
“Boat inspections are critical to maintaining the health of Lake Tahoe and our local recreation-based economy,” said Dennis Zabaglo, TRPA’s AIS Program Coordinator. “Through the efforts of the Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s well-trained inspectors and other private and public partners committed to the Lake, we expect to have another successful season.”
All motorized boats and watercraft require inspection for aquatic invasive species (AIS) prior to launching into Lake Tahoe. Invasive species, such as Quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnails or hydrilla, are known to multiply quickly and colonize underwater surfaces, including docks and piers, water supply and filtration systems, buoys, moored boats and even the beautiful rocky shoreline. They destroy fish habitat, ruin boat engines, and can negatively impact water quality and the local economy, recreation and ecosystem. Boats and other watercraft are the largest transporters of AIS, and the inspection program is critical to preventing their spread into Lake Tahoe and other water bodies. Knowingly transporting AIS into Lake Tahoe is against the law, and violators may be subject to monetary penalties.
“Boaters are encouraged to Clean, Drain, and Dry their boats prior to arriving at inspection stations in order to save time and money,” according to Nicole Cartwright, Watercraft Inspection Program Administrator for the Tahoe RCD “Make sure to drain and dry all water, even water from your garden hose used to flush. Taking these three simple steps will get you on the water faster.”
Annual watercraft inspection fees remain unchanged from 2013. The “Tahoe In & Out” sticker ranges from $35 for personal watercraft and vessels under 17 feet and up to $121 for vessels over 39 feet. The “Tahoe Only” sticker fee is $30. An additional fee of $35 is being charged for any boat requiring decontamination and an additional $10 fee for the decontamination of ballast tanks or bags.
For more information on aquatic invasive species prevention, control and early detection join us for our Spring Public Forum. The event is located this year at the Tahoe Environmental Research Center located in Incline Village, NV on May 22nd from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Event details can be found by visiting TahoeBoatInspections.com or call (888) 824-6267 for updates, details and information.
According to watercraft inspection data and scientific reports, Lake Tahoe’s waters remain free of new invasive species introductions, which are major threats to the overall health of Lake Tahoe and surrounding water bodies. During the 2013 boating season Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) watercraft inspectors performed more than 7,000 new inspections. In total, more than 14,000 vessels launched at Lake Tahoe, including both newly inspected vessels and those with intact Tahoe-issued inspection seals.
“We’re very happy with the watercraft inspectors’ diligence and accuracy,” said Patrick Stone, TRPA’s Senior Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist. “Monitoring conducted in Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake, and Echo Lake confirmed that quagga and zebra mussels have not established in our lakes. These results are a credit to the inspection program and boaters efforts to arrive clean, drained and dry.”
Local agencies are critically concerned as more Western waterbodies have shown evidence of invasive mussels and other aquatic invaders. This summer, Nevada Department of Wildlife confirmed establishment of New Zealand mudsnails in sections of the Truckee River from Mayberry Park in Reno to the Sparks area. As watercraft continue to arrive from high-risk waters, the importance of Lake Tahoe’s Watercraft Inspection Program remains critical. In fact, 36 of the inspected watercraft were harboring aquatic invasive critters including plants, mussels and snails. With our efficient roadside inspection stations, Tahoe RCD decontaminated 4,221watercraft with hot water preventing invasive species from entering Tahoe’s waters.
“I’d like to thank the more than 3,000 boaters who arrived at the Tahoe inspection stations with their watercraft clean, drained and dry. They got on the water faster because decontaminations mean more time and more cost for both the boaters and the inspection program.” Nicole Cartwright, Watercraft Inspection Program Administrator.
Tahoe RCD watercraft inspectors also staffed Boca, Prosser and Stampede Reservoirs and partnered with the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District to provide watercraft inspectors at Donner Lake. Truckee inspectors screened more than 3,500 vessels for aquatic invasive species. Tahoe RCD continues to support jurisdictions in the Truckee region as they work toward development of their 2014 aquatic invasive species prevention programs.
Prevention efforts for over 7000 paddlers occurred at U.S. Forest Service kiosks, boat ramps and Fallen Leaf Lake. They were assessed for their risk of transporting aquatic invasive species from previously visited waterbodies. Paddlers were also educated about self-inspecting and decontaminating canoes, kayaks and paddleboards and encouraged to become a Tahoe Keeper (TahoeKeepers.org).
Current information on the boat inspection program, including hours of operation for boat launches and snow closures, is available at TahoeBoatInspections.com or by calling 888-824-6267.
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