South Lake Tahoe, CA – Paddlers at Lake Tahoe who enjoy the peace and solitude of skimming over crystal clear waters can now join the Tahoe Keepers stewardship community to protect Lake Tahoe from aquatic invasive species, according to an invasive species multi-agency committee.
Tahoe Keepers is a free training program designed to help non-motorized watercraft operators guard against inadvertently transporting aquatic invasive species to water bodies within the Lake Tahoe Basin by self-inspecting and decontaminating their boats and gear after each use.
Aquatic invasive species are spreading rapidly throughout the West, and paddle-powered craft are part of the risk. Non-native species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, and the New Zealand mudsnail could irreparably damage the Lake Tahoe watershed and their transport is illegal. These invasive species are spread through the transport of water and debris that can collect in cockpits and hatches, cling to outer hulls, rudders, and paddles, and even hide out on your gear long after a paddling outing.
Paddlers can learn more about becoming a Tahoe Keeper online at TahoeKeepers.org. The new web site offers instructions on how to properly Clean, Drain, and Dry watercraft and gear after each use, and properly Dispose of any plants or debris away from lakes and streams. Taking these few minutes before and after paddling will help protect Lake Tahoe, your gear, and your freedom to launch at undeveloped sites. Paddlers are encouraged to spread the word to other paddlers about the Clean, Drain and Dry method and to join the Tahoe Keepers stewardship community.
Paddlers who successfully complete the 10-minute online training program will become members of the Tahoe Keepers stewardship community, and will receive “Proof of Training” credentials. The self-inspection training program for kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards is free and voluntary in 2011. Widespread participation in this program can help to protect recreational opportunities and privileges in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Aquatic invasive species inspectors will be providing education and may request to inspect your watercraft. Identifying yourself with Tahoe Keeper credentials will help to demonstrate that your watercraft is not high risk.
PREVENT IN-BASIN TRANSFER
Help protect your favorite place, and your favorite pastime. It’s easy and free!
Isolating and controlling aquatic invasive species already present within the Tahoe Basin is an important part of preventing the spread to other locations. Currently, there is no Eurasian watermilfoil, curly leaf pondweed or Asian clams in Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, and Spooner Lake. If you only paddle in the Lake Tahoe Basin, it is important that you inspect your watercraft and gear to ensure you are not inadvertently transporting clams or the non-native plants found in Lake Tahoe to and other lakes, streams, and rivers. These universal precautions should be taken wherever you paddle, according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District and TRPA.
Free kayak, canoe, paddle board, and non-motorized watercraft inspections and decontaminations are available at each roadside watercraft inspection station located at Meyers, Spooner Summit, Homewood Mountain, Northstar-at-Tahoe, and Alpine Meadows. Directions to these roadside stations, a list of water bodies containing aquatic invasive species, and answers to frequently asked questions, are also available at tahoeboatinspections.com.
The Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Program is implemented by 40 public and private partner organizations including federal, state and local jurisdictions, research partners, public utility districts, and private marinas. The state, federal and local agencies comprising the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinating Committee have provided leadership, direction and resources to fulfill this program’s mission of prevention, detection, and control of aquatic invasive species in the Lake Tahoe Region. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency plays a leadership role in this partnership and cooperatively leads the effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region now and in the future. For additional information, contact Kristi Boosman at (775) 589-5230 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.