Invasive species and traveling

So I will be going to the Berkshires in Massachusetts pretty soon, and am considering taking my kayak. When I looked at the state website, I found out that for certain waters, a “clean boat certificate” is required. The body of water I’m most interested in paddling does not require it however.

I also would be very concerned about the possibility of bringing something like zebra or quagga mussels back to the waters of Eastern PA. I’ll be staying at a 2nd floor condo without a good ability to clean the boat.

For those of you who travel to other areas with your boats, what precautions do you take?

wash in and out, chlorine helps

Doubtful its invasive mussels yet
Like other New England states Mass is trying to halt the spread of invasive hydrilla and Eurasian milfoil among others. Plant fragments are the means of propagation.

So please clean before you arrive and after you leave. I find that milfoil is out of control in other states and those have no control program. Paddlers just put up with it.

Zebra mussels are a cause for concern and not wanted

See if any of these are in your area


Maine has a clean water law too and inspectors at boat ramps at heavily used lakes. Out of staters are required to purchase an invasive species tag. Dont know about Mass… you likely know more than I do.

Didymo too
Didymo algae (also known as “rock snot”) is increasingly spreading to streams throughout the Northeast. You probably ought to check in on the current recommendations on avoiding the spread of that as well. It’s pretty disgusting stuff.

Thank you for caring about it

– Last Updated: Jul-10-16 7:41 PM EST –

My former home state, CO, eventually regarded kayaks as low risk for harboring zebra mussels. However, any water left in the boat (cockpit, hatch compartments) can contain zebra mussel larvae. Not just big-boat bilges.

The mussels themselves become obvious when they are big and encrust hulls, as shown in photos of houseboats infested with them. But the larvae are tiny and swim freely. With kayaks, it is the larvae you have to watch out for.

I always hosed off my boats inside and out, after every paddle. In fact, I still do that now despite mostly paddling saltwater, which kills zebra mussels. Rinsing and wiping dry not only prevent tiny hitchhikers, they also prevent the cockpit from getting that pondwater or lowtide funk.

Different states have different ways of certifying your boat as OK. You might try calling the relevant Dept. of Natural Resources to find out what they require. Thanks for giving a d*mn, and have fun paddling!

Oh...if washing the boat at the condo isn't doable, wash it at a carwash. Easy and cheap to do, and you can rinse your car at the same time.

Dry, heat, or chemical your boat.
Some of the AIS, like zebras, don’t last more than a couple days without moisture. So, if you knock the accumulations of dirt or mud loose, and then let your canoe or kayak dry for a couple days, you won’t be spreading zebras.

If you don’t have a couple days, you must resort to hot, 140-degree, water, or some kind of chemical. Vinegar works, and it takes a lot of vinegar to wash a boat. Seems like the do-it-yourself, coin-op car wash ought to work, but I don’t specifically know.

I have gone through the AIS sticker drill in Wyoming and Idaho. I think it was Idaho that had a sign at the border requiring all boats stop for inspection. I stopped. Seemed like the inspectors didn’t really know how to inspect a kayak and just kind of waved me through. Both places, it seemed like the sticker was more of an awareness and revenue thing than an actual inspection.


That is Idaho
When we went there before, we had the sea kayaks and planned to paddle them one time in ID on our way to the coast. We had to find an inspector first, which turned out to be a PITA. The inspection itself wasn’t bad.

Recently when we drove through (toting my WWK inside, not intending to paddle it in ID), I wondered if the sign mandating stops for ALL VESSELS PASSING THROUGH meant we would get in trouble for just driving on by. I still don’t know, but we avoid doing things that get people pulled over by police anyway.

Didymo is found in some locations of VT and NH and of course Mass is on the lookout for it too

Here is treatment advised by Mass and some lovely pictures

a suggestion:

– Last Updated: Jul-11-16 9:27 AM EST –

I'll let people from PA speak specifically to the cert requirements. Here in MI many boat washes are nothing more than a primitive do-it-yourself wash. Some have heated water, which helps.

Take your boat to a do-it-yourself car wash, and wash it with high-pressure spray and (if possible) hot water. If not possible, wipe it down with a chlorine mixture after you've sprayed all of the visible dirt off of it. Make sure you wash the inside. Do this before departing on your trip and in between travels.

The Clean Boat certificate

is for boats that will be on Mass Lakes deemed at high risk of zebra or quagga mussel contamination and if you have been on lakes listed in Step 2 you MUST clean per the steps outlined.

The implication is that Mass lakes are relatively invasive free( though there are a few miscreants) and that there is an interest in keeping them so.

Not possible
I paddle mostly on the Columbia River. Oregon has a law that requires a permit for all boats over ten feet long, but not surf boards and sail boards. This is stupid beyond reason, because ships from all over the world come up the Columbia to Portland. Anyway, I’m from Washington and we don’t need no stinking permit–not even to launch on the Oregon side.

Everyone knows that the permit is nothing but a revenue enhancement and is meaningless in preventing invasive species as pertains to the Columbia below Bonneville.

Yeah, we’ve got some of that milfoil weed in places, but the cattle love it. They wade out into the water and graze on that rather than grass. It can’t grow above the mean low tide, nor in very deep water, so it’s not much of a problem. Some enterprising entity should harvest it for animal feed.

link, and a question
Here’s a link to the application:

Have you ever been called to verify an application? I wonder what the State’s process is, the application seems like it presumes honesty on the boater’s part.

We only have a voluntary program here, which is a bit startling to me given the reach of our waterways and the popularity of boating here.

Milfoil is a big problem in other places

Given all of the public access

– Last Updated: Jul-11-16 11:27 AM EST –

sites we have, some managed by the DNR and others created by counties or townships, enforcement would be a major challenge, both physically and economically.

Paddled Pickeral Lake up the channel into Crooked Lake yesterday. Pickeral and Crooked have quagga mussels. Took extra care washing my boat, paying extra attention to the skeg housing, before taking it down to the lake here.

My efforts probably make little difference as some of the summer people regularly take their boats from here to Lake Michigan for day trips and I know they don't bother cleaning them before bringing them back in.

yeah - it’s a huge challenge
Good on you for doing the right thing.

I know the DEQ was making grant funding available for boat washes, but not sure if that program is still in place. But it’s a huge challenge also given how many people bring their boats from SE MI to northern MI.

Whenever a paddle leaves my boat with soil or scum or anything else, I try to wash it off right away (it sort of grosses me out).

I don’t travel much, but even between
local watersheds, I’ll at least wipe down the inside and outside of the boat with the bilge sponge to remove visible dirt, slime, vegetation, etc. and try to leave the boat on the car for at least a day for heat dry and UV sterilization before putting them back in the garage.

One of my main concerns with this approach is that I don’t do any decontamination of the bilge sponge itself, so it may be spreading species from one location to another, even if the boat isn’t.

For my canoes with wood gunwales, I’m not likely to pressure wash the wood joints or intentionally force water where it doesn’t usually go.

When wiping a boat down with a chlorine solution, does the residual chlorine on the boat pose any potential harm to the next body of water that’s paddled in? I suppose that would be less of a concern than spreading an invasive species.

Hopefully, I’m not spreading any undesirable critters.

I’d doubt it
I’d doubt that a wipedown of your boat with chlorine would cause any harm to the next lake or stream. I’d expect it to dry by then but even if not, it’s such a small amount.

Use a solution of water and bleach, otherwise you’ll just be wasting bleach.

Western states
I live in Utah, where stickers aren’t required…yet. But they do inspect at the ramps of larger lakes like Flaming Gorge & Lake Powell. They have hot water wash stations at all of the inspection stations I’ve seen in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Idaho tends to be a pretty lax inspection in my experience. Wyoming on the other hand, does a much closer inspection of the boat (rafts & kayaks). On my paddle trip to Yellowstone last week, they actually got on a folding ladder and looked inside my SOT hatches. They also inspected my paddle blades.

Arizona has Quagga
And both California and Nevada are worried about this.

I have to stop at the Calif border to have my boat inspected but they usually ask when the last time I had it in the water?

If it has been long enough for the boat to dry and kill the mussels, they let me pass.

If not, they ask about my cleaning regimine.

So far they have never turned me back or made me wash it.

My system is to rinse the boat off and out and let it dry until the next trip. As I store it inside a tent-shelter, it dries out quickly and remains dry for a week or more which seems to satisfy the Aggie Inspectors in Calif.

Nevada requires a sticker for Quagga but when I do the Lower Colorado with the put0in in Nevada below Hoover Dam, no one has ever inspected or asked and HS are watching us to be certain that a 12’ plastic boat will not ram and destroy Hoover Dam.

So before I left on my vacation, I washed my boat. I wound up going to a Berkshires lake that had an actual inspection station for quagga mussels, as well as a steam cleaning station for those boats where they were found. I did not use my own boat that evening, having borrowed a longer boat from the kind inspector to do a race.

The next day I went for a paddle on my childhood lake, but no station was there. Later that afternoon, that very same man washed my boat for me so it would be clean going back to PA.