Allen Pleus, 360-902-2724
Rachel Blomker, 360-902-2236
EPHRATA – Boat owners can get their vessel decontaminated from aquatic invasive species, free of charge, at a new facility scheduled to open June 1 in Ephrata. Properly decontaminating boats can prevent hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental and economic damages caused by aquatic invasive species.
Aquatic invasive species are marine, estuarine, or freshwater organisms that invade ecosystems beyond their natural historic range, and can negatively impact water quality, power and irrigation systems, native wildlife, and recreation opportunities.
The new station, located in the parking lot of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Regional Office at 1550 Alder Street NW, Ephrata, was funded by a $285,000 grant from the Recreation and Conservation Office.
“This decontamination station is a critical piece of infrastructure needed to prevent the spread of invasive mussels,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “If quagga and zebra mussels become established in Washington, it will cost over $100 million each year to keep our dams, drinking water, and irrigation systems running. We all need to do our part to stop the spread of invasive species.”
The station uses hot water (140 degrees) to power spray the exterior of boats, trailers, and other aquatic equipment up to 26 feet in length. This technique is more effective than solely relying on the clean, drain, and dry method, as the hot water kills aquatic invasive species that might not be visible such as diseases that can affect native fish and amphibian populations.
Trained WDFW staff will conduct boat decontaminations at the new facility by appointment only starting June 1. To schedule a free appointment, contact the AIS hotline at 1-888-WDFW-AIS (1-888-933-9247). Most decontaminations for boats under 26 feet take 30 minutes. Depending on the boat size and level of infestation, it can take up to two hours.
For free fishing weekend, June 8-9, WDFW will provide free boat inspections and decontaminations without an appointment, first come, first served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Zebra and quagga mussels have not been found in Washington waters, but they have been found on boats transported across state lines. They are threatening native fish and wildlife populations in neighboring states and are easily transported by boats,” said Allen Pleus, WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species Manager, “We hope the new decontamination station in Ephrata will make it easier for Washington boat owners to rid their vessels of any aquatic invasive species.”
Owning a boat is expensive enough without also paying fines for something you could have prevented. If caught transporting aquatic invasive species in Washington State, the penalty is $500. To avoid fines, boat owners should call the AIS hotline at 1-888-WDFW-AIS (1-888-933-9247) before their trip for guidance on if they need a decontamination.
Washington has two watercraft check stations located off of Interstate 90 on the Idaho/Washington border, and off of Interstate 82 near the Oregon/Washington border. People passing by these watercraft check stations who are bringing a boat or other aquatic equipment into Washington must stop at the stations when they are open.
This is also a reminder that operators of watercraft not registered in Washington State, seaplanes, and commercial transporters of specified vessel types must purchase an aquatic invasive species prevention permit. These permits are valid for one year and can be purchased for $24 online or from any of WDFW’s authorized license dealers.
For Washington residents who regularly transport recreational watercraft in and out of state, WDFW recommends using the free Washington State Watercraft Passport to keep track of the waters they’ve visited and aquatic invasive species inspection stations they’ve stopped at.
For more information on aquatic invasive species, visit the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/invasive. To report an aquatic invasive species sighting, request a free inspection, request information on aquatic invasive species contacts in other states, or schedule your decontamination appointment, contact the AIS hotline at 1-888-WDFW-AIS (1-888-933-9247).
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.