State asks boaters to Clean, Drain, Dry to prevent spread of invasive species

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News release

Stephanie Helms, Washington Invasive Species Council, 360-704-0973
Becky Elder, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 360-701-7026
Staci Lehman, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 509-710-4511

OLYMPIA – The Washington Invasive Species Council and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are asking boaters to “Clean, Drain, and Dry” their boats and equipment this boating season to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species and to protect Washington’s waterways.

“We need your help to protect Washington waters,” said Stephanie Helms, executive coordinator for the Washington Invasive Species Council. “And, the best way for any Washingtonian to help protect our waterways from hitchhiking invasive species is to take simple steps to Clean, Drain and Dry your boat.”

Invasive species, which include aquatic plants and animals, can attach themselves on the surface of a boat, motors, trailers, and other equipment. That includes non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks and inflatable paddleboards, and any equipment that touches the water including boots and waders.

Some aquatic invasive plants, such as Eurasian milfoil, grow quickly and crowd out native species and plants to take over native habitats. The plants can grow so densely that they clog boat engines and can make swimming difficult and unpleasant. Eurasian milfoil is present in much of the state but can be prevented from establishing in new waterbodies by following Clean, Drain, Dry, protocols.

Other devastating invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, are not known to be present in Washington but are high priorities for prevention.

“Quagga and zebra mussels will be a multimillion-dollar problem annually if they are introduced to our lakes and rivers,” said Justin Bush, WDFW’s aquatic invasive species policy coordinator. “They would require expensive and ongoing maintenance at water facilities such as dams, irrigation systems and fish ladders, and could also harm the environment including salmon recovery. It is estimated that the invasive mussels would cost more than $100 million a year just for hydropower and water infrastructure alone."

This July 1, WDFW, the lead state agency for prevention and management of aquatic invasive species in Washington, received $3.6 million in additional state and federal funding to increase monitoring, prevention, and response readiness for quagga and zebra mussels in the Snake and Columbia Rivers, and other watersheds statewide. 

These increased efforts are in response to the September 2023 detection of quagga mussels in the Snake River outside Twin Falls, Idaho. More information about the recent increased funding is in WDFW's recent blog post.

“There has never been a more important time to clean, drain, and dry your boat and equipment,” said Bush. “The health of our waters, fisheries, tourism industry, recreational opportunities and statewide economy depends on it.”

Here are simple actions to Clean, Drain and Dry watercraft and equipment:

  • Clean shoes, waders, life vests, boat hulls and engines, trailers and other equipment by removing all visible plants, algae and mud. Use a stiff-bristled brush to clean equipment.
  • Drain any accumulated water from boats or gear–including water used in cleaning–before leaving the vicinity.
  • Let boats or gear fully dry before using again.

More information on the Clean, Drain and Dry campaign and a how-to guide are online.

WDFW inspects boats, kayaks and other watercraft for aquatic invasive species at five watercraft check stations. In 2024, the Department inspected more than 58,000 watercraft and intercepted 25 mussel-fouled watercraft that were cleaned and decontaminated. It is illegal to transport aquatic invasive species from one waterbody to another in Washington. Violators could face a year in jail and $5,000 in fines. More information is available online or by calling 1-888-WDFW-AIS.

“Invasive species do not obey rules, respect laws or property lines,” Helms said. “Which is why we all must work together to protect all that we love in Washington state; together, we can do this.”

To report aquatic invasive species, call 1-888-WDFW-AIS or email ais@wdfw.wa.gov. To report other invasive species, report using the WA Invasives app.

Part of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, the Washington Invasive Species Council’s mission is to provide policy direction, planning, and coordination to empower those entities engaged in the prevention, detection, and eradication of invasive species.  For additional information visit invasivespecies.wa.gov.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish, wildlife, and recreational and commercial opportunities.

Additional background resources

Photos at

Invasive quagga mussels detected in Idaho; monitoring and prevention efforts ramp up in Washington

Invasive freshwater mussel monitoring ramping up in Washington waters

Request this information in an alternative format or language at wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation, 833-885-1012, TTY (711), or CivilRightsTeam@dfw.wa.gov.