Wildlife

DWR finds 364 boats with ‘STD of the Sea’ over Fourth of July weekend

UTAH — The Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) had a busy Fourth of July weekend. Between Thursday and Sunday, officers and technicians around the state issued 161 citations, inspected over eighteen thousand boats, and performed 364 boat decontaminations.

The DWR is focused on preventing the invasive quagga mussels that have been found in Lake Powell and other states from spreading to other Utah waterbodies.

Quagga mussels can plug water lines, remove plankton from the water, which harms fish, and can enter into your boat’s engine cooling system, which can cause severe damage.

“Thank you to all the boaters who work with our staff and are cooperative in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species,” DWR Aquatic Invasive Species Lt. Bruce Johnson said. “We appreciate the effort and time boaters take to comply with laws to protect our waters in Utah.”

In terms of the 161 issued citations, the DWR stated that the majority of the citations were due to boaters not stopping at inspection stations, boaters failing to take the mandatory mussel-aware boater program course and not paying the associated aquatic invasive species fee, failing to remove drain plugs while transporting their watercraft, and illegally launching without waiting the required dry time or getting a proper decontamination.

There are more than 40 inspection stations positioned at boat ramps on various waterbodies, along highways, and at Port of Entry stations across Utah.

Visit the DWR’s STD of the Sea website for a comprehensive list of all decontamination stations throughout the state and detailed information on requirements for boaters and users of non-motorized watercraft.

DWR officers also found a boater at Strawberry Reservoir who was trying to transport his boat with live fish and a full livewell. In Utah, it is against the law to transfer live fish between different bodies of water or to bring them home, which carries a penalty of a class A misdemeanor.

Introducing fish illegally poses significant risks, such as spreading diseases, damaging fisheries, and endangering local species.

Anyone intending to use any type of watercraft this summer, whether they reside in Utah or not, must first complete a free annual mussel-aware boater course. This requirement applies to individuals using paddle boards, kayaks, and other non-motorized watercraft.

Following the course, individuals must pay the annual aquatic invasive species program vessel enrollment fee. The fee is $20 per watercraft for residents and $25 per watercraft for nonresidents. After you pay the fee, a current-year boat decal will be mailed to you.

Any boats leaving Lake Powell must be thoroughly inspected at one of the DWR’s official inspection stations. After being inspected, a watercraft must still be professionally decontaminated before it can launch at a different water body.

If the boat cannot be decontaminated, it must be properly cleaned and drained, and then wait the required dry time before launching again.

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