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Boaters still required to stop at aquatic invasive species inspection stations

SALEM, Ore. – While the state of Oregon is currently not recommending out-of-state residents visit the state for recreation due to the Governor’s Stay Home, Save Lives order, all watercraft entering Oregon are still required to be inspected at an aquatic invasive species station when the stations are open. This includes commercial watercraft, which, will account for most of the inspections while the stay-at-home order remains in effect.

Located throughout Oregon, stations are open if large, orange “Boat Inspection Ahead” signs are posted on highways followed by “Inspection Required for All Watercraft.”

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife inspection stations in Ashland and Ontario are open year-round. Seasonal stations open May 12 in Brookings, Klamath Falls, Lakeview and Umatilla.

Inspections for aquatic invasive species typically take five to 10 minutes. ODFW staff working at the stations are taking necessary precautions to protect themselves and others against the spread of COVID-19 by wearing proper protective equipment and maintaining physical distance from others.

We would ask that drivers please turn off their vehicles when they pull into the inspection station. This will make it easier for the inspector and driver to hear each other and maintain physical distance.

Drivers are not required to get out of their vehicle at the inspection station and ODFW encourages all people riding in the vehicle to stay within the vehicle and to communicate through their window if they have questions about the inspection.

Watercraft found with aquatic invasive species attached are decontaminated on the spot. Both boat inspections and decontaminations, if needed, are free.

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.

“It’s important for boaters to 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 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,” added Boatner.

All vehicles towing or carrying motorized or non-motorized boats, including canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and sailboats must stop. Anyone hauling a boat who doesn’t stop at an open station could receive a $110 fine.

Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permits are also required for most boaters in Oregon. Both resident and non-resident non-motorized boats (paddlecraft) 10 feet and longer require a permit and all non-resident motorized boats. Resident motorized boat permits are included in their Oregon boater registration fee.

Permits can be purchased on-line at either the Oregon State Marine Board website or with ODFW Electronic License system.

Permits may not be obtained in-person at ODFW offices which are closed to the public due to COVID-19 social distancing measures.
Permit sales provide funding for the six boat inspection stations throughout Oregon.

“Everyone who boats needs to make sure they always practice “Clean, Drain, and Dry” before putting their boat in at another water body. All boaters 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 2019, technicians inspected 26,875 watercraft coming into Oregon and found 400 with aquatic invasive species. Aquatic vegetation, marine and freshwater organisms contaminated 384 of those boats and the remaining 16 had quagga or zebra mussels attached. Contaminated boats came from Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

For boat safety inspections, contact your local county sheriff marine patrol or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.