Education

Eurasian Watermilfoil

Aquatic Invasive Species can irreversibly harm the Lake Tahoe watershed.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) pose a serious threat to the recreational and natural resources of the Lake Tahoe watershed. AIS compete with native species and can increase algae growth that contributes to the decline of Lake Tahoe's famous water clarity. AIS often damage boats and gear by building up on rudders, hulls, and paddles.

Currently, the most serious threats to the streams and lakes in the Lake Tahoe Region are Zebra and Quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, and Eurasian watermilfoil and Curlyleaf pondweed. Each of these invaders is spread through the transport of water and/or debris that can collect in cockpits and hatches, cling to outer hulls, rudders, and paddles, and even hide out on your gear. Once AIS are introduced and establish a local population, they are extremely costly to control and often impossible to eradicate. For example, the Lake Mead community spends over $20 million a year to combat their quagga mussel infestation. For these reasons, the prevention of new AIS infestations is more effective and more economical than the control or eradication of an existing infestation.

Quagga Mussels

Zebra and Quagga Mussels

Zebra and Quagga mussels are spreading rapidly throughout the United States. These species travel between counties and states by attaching to watercraft and gear, which are then transported great distances by car, truck, or trailer. Adult mussels cause significant damage to water utilities, recreational facilities, and watercraft where they use a cement-like adhesive to attach and accumulate in catastrophic densities. The adults and juvenile mussels will attach to non-motorized watercraft stored in contaminated water, and their microscopic young (or veligers) can survive the journey between waterbodies if there is sufficient standing water throughout the trip.

New Zealand Mudsnails

New Zealand mudsnail

New Zealand mudsnail have been detected in several California waterways, including the nearby American River and Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta. This animal is most often transported via clumps of mud stuck to boots, watercraft, or other gear that comes in contact with the water. Simply cleaning gear thoroughly and inspecting for mud or debris at the haul-out site can greatly reduce the risk of transporting mudsnail.

Eurasian Watermilfoil in Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Aquatic Weeds (Eurasian watermilfoil and Curlyleaf pondweed)

Invasive Aquatic plants, such as Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed, also threaten the abundant recreational opportunities and natural wonders Lake Tahoe offers. Aquatic weeds grow unchecked to produce thick mats in near shore areas that alter ecosystems and damage Lake Tahoe's famous clarity. Thick aquatic plant growth hinders navigation and can tangle on rudders, hulls, and paddles. This thick aquatic vegetation also provides an unnatural habitat that allows other non-native species to establish.

Unfortunately, non-native Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed exist in Lake Tahoe and several of its tributary streams. We need your help to ensure these non-native weeds are not transferred from Lake Tahoe into Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, Spooner Lake or our regional streams.

Decontamination for Kayaks, Canoes, Paddleboards, and Inflatable Watercraft

Careful inspections of watercraft and gear are an effective method for preventing the inadvertent transport of AIS into Lake Tahoe's pristine watershed. AIS can hide almost anywhere, and the adult zebra and quagga mussels can live up to 30 days out of water! Clean, Drain and Dry your watercraft and gear every time you haul out after use, and properly Dispose of any plants or debris you find. Click here to watch the training video.

  1. Clean kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and inflatable watercraft by inspecting your boat thoroughly and removing all dirt, plant and other material from your rudder, hull, cockpit and gear.If you're coming from a region with infested waterbodies or find AIS during your inspection, wash with pressurized hot water if available, away from any water source. Cleaning solutions such as bleach, 409 degreaser, and vinegar can also be used to clean watercraft and effectively kill AIS; however, these solutions should never be used to clean watercraft on a beach or river bank where the solution could inadvertently enter the waterbody.
  2. Drain the water from your hatches, cockpits, boards, and gear on land before you leave the immediate area. Open all hatches or plugs, turn the boat upside down and rest on an open hatch to incline the watercraft and drain it.
  3. Dry your watercraft and gear, and store them in a dry place where aquatic invaders cannot survive. Inspect your watercraft and gear for moisture before launching. In Tahoe, adult quagga mussel can survive out of water for as long as 30 days! New Zealand mudsnail can survive even longer if they are kept in a cool, moist location.
  4. Dispose of all dirt, plant and other material above the waterline on dry land or in a trash can. Be aware of storm drains and gutters that may flow to streams, rivers, or lakes.

Self-inspect and decontaminate your watercraft and gear every time you haul out and move between waterbodies. When leaving an area infested with AIS or if you find contaminants during your inspection, take special care and implement additional decontamination measures, such as a pressurized hot-water spray and/or keeping your watercraft completely dry for at least 5 days. Making the Clean Drain and Dry technique a habit every time you haul out or move between waterbodies will take just a few extra minutes and can make all the difference in protecting your recreation experience. Kayak, canoe, and paddleboard inspections and decontaminations are free at roadside watercraft inspection stations.

Prevent In-basin Transfer

If you only paddle within the Lake Tahoe basin, it is still very important to inspect your watercraft and gear to ensure you are not inadvertently transporting Eurasian watermilfoil, curlyleaf pondweed, or Asian clams. Although these species occur in several locations in Lake Tahoe, they have not yet invaded Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, or Spooner Lake. Many other small lakes and most of the streams in the Lake Tahoe Basin are free of invasive species and we'd like to keep it that way. It only takes a few extra minutes to inspect and dispose of any weeds or clams before you move to a new body of water.

AIS Presently in Lake Tahoe:

  • Eurasian watermilfoil
  • Curly leaf pondweed
  • Asian clam
  • Largemouth bass
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Bluegill sunfish
  • Black crappie
  • Bullhead catfish
  • Bullfrog

NOT Presently in Lake Tahoe:

  • Zebra mussel
  • Quagga mussel
  • New Zealand mudsnail

Prevention Saves You Money

Preventing the spread of AIS into and within the Lake Tahoe Basin is a worthwhile investment. It would require millions of state and public tax dollars every year to try and manage a quagga or zebra mussel infestation if one were to successfully establish at Lake Tahoe. Infestations of these species would cost the community millions more in private property damage. Lake Mead spends $20 million annually to fight AIS, paid by state and local tax dollars. Thousands of watercraft have already been rendered inoperable by these nuisances.

Useful Links

To learn more about aquatic species in Tahoe, visit these informative resources:

Native and Invasive Mollusks

Native and Invasive Aquatic Plants

100th Meridian Initiative – Information on Non-indigenous Aquatic Species

Education

Aquatic Invasive Species can irreversibly harm the Lake Tahoe watershed.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) pose a serious threat to the recreational and natural resources of the Lake Tahoe watershed. AIS compete with native species and can increase algae growth that contributes to the decline of Lake Tahoe's famous water clarity. AIS often damage boats and gear by building up on rudders, hulls, and paddles.

Currently, the most serious threats to the streams and lakes in the Lake Tahoe Region are Zebra and Quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, and Eurasian watermilfoil and Curlyleaf pondweed. Each of these invaders is spread through the transport of water and/or debris that can collect in cockpits and hatches, cling to outer hulls, rudders, and paddles, and even hide out on your gear. Once AIS are introduced and establish a local population, they are extremely costly to control and often impossible to eradicate. For example, the Lake Mead community spends over $20 million a year to combat their quagga mussel infestation. For these reasons, the prevention of new AIS infestations is more effective and more economical than the control or eradication of an existing infestation.

Quagga Mussels

Zebra and Quagga Mussels

Zebra and Quagga mussels are spreading rapidly throughout the United States. These species travel between counties and states by attaching to watercraft and gear, which are then transported great distances by car, truck, or trailer. Adult mussels cause significant damage to water utilities, recreational facilities, and watercraft where they use a cement-like adhesive to attach and accumulate in catastrophic densities. The adults and juvenile mussels will attach to non-motorized watercraft stored in contaminated water, and their microscopic young (or veligers) can survive the journey between waterbodies if there is sufficient standing water throughout the trip.

New Zealand Mudsnails

New Zealand mudsnail

New Zealand mudsnail have been detected in several California waterways, including the nearby American River and Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta. This animal is most often transported via clumps of mud stuck to boots, watercraft, or other gear that comes in contact with the water. Simply cleaning gear thoroughly and inspecting for mud or debris at the haul-out site can greatly reduce the risk of transporting mudsnail.

Eurasian Watermilfoil in Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Aquatic Weeds (Eurasian watermilfoil and Curlyleaf pondweed)

Invasive Aquatic plants, such as Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed, also threaten the abundant recreational opportunities and natural wonders Lake Tahoe offers. Aquatic weeds grow unchecked to produce thick mats in near shore areas that alter ecosystems and damage Lake Tahoe's famous clarity. Thick aquatic plant growth hinders navigation and can tangle on rudders, hulls, and paddles. This thick aquatic vegetation also provides an unnatural habitat that allows other non-native species to establish.

Unfortunately, non-native Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed exist in Lake Tahoe and several of its tributary streams. We need your help to ensure these non-native weeds are not transferred from Lake Tahoe into Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, Spooner Lake or our regional streams.

Decontamination for Kayaks, Canoes, Paddleboards, and Inflatable Watercraft

Careful inspections of watercraft and gear are an effective method for preventing the inadvertent transport of AIS into Lake Tahoe's pristine watershed. AIS can hide almost anywhere, and the adult zebra and quagga mussels can live up to 30 days out of water! Clean, Drain and Dry your watercraft and gear every time you haul out after use, and properly Dispose of any plants or debris you find. Click here to watch the training video.

  1. Clean kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and inflatable watercraft by inspecting your boat thoroughly and removing all dirt, plant and other material from your rudder, hull, cockpit and gear.If you're coming from a region with infested waterbodies or find AIS during your inspection, wash with pressurized hot water if available, away from any water source. Cleaning solutions such as bleach, 409 degreaser, and vinegar can also be used to clean watercraft and effectively kill AIS; however, these solutions should never be used to clean watercraft on a beach or river bank where the solution could inadvertently enter the watersbody.
  2. Drain the water from your hatches, cockpits, boards, and gear on land before you leave the immediate area. Open all hatches or plugs, turn the boat upside down and rest on an open hatch to incline the watercraft and drain it.
  3. Dry your watercraft and gear, and store them in a dry place where aquatic invaders cannot survive. Inspect your watercraft and gear for moisture before launching. In Tahoe, adult quagga mussel can survive out of water for as long as 30 days! New Zealand mudsnail can survive even longer if they are kept in a cool, moist location.
  4. Dispose of all dirt, plant and other material above the waterline on dry land or in a trash can. Be aware of storm drains and gutters that may flow to streams, rivers, or lakes.

Self-inspect and decontaminate your watercraft and gear every time you haul out and move between waterbodies. When leaving an area infested with AIS or if you find contaminants during your inspection, take special care and implement additional decontamination measures, such as a pressurized hot-water spray and/or keeping your watercraft completely dry for at least 5 days. Making the Clean Drain and Dry technique a habit every time you haul out or move between waterbodies will take just a few extra minutes and can make all the difference in protecting your recreation experience. Kayak, canoe, and paddleboard inspections and decontaminations are free at roadside watercraft inspection stations.

Prevent In-basin Transfer

If you only paddle within the Lake Tahoe basin, it is still very important to inspect your watercraft and gear to ensure you are not inadvertently transporting Eurasian watermilfoil, curlyleaf pondweed, or Asian clams. Although these species occur in several locations in Lake Tahoe, they have not yet invaded Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, or Spooner Lake. Many other small lakes and most of the streams in the Lake Tahoe Basin are free of invasive species and we'd like to keep it that way. It only takes a few extra minutes to inspect and dispose of any weeds or clams before you move to a new body of water.

AIS Presently in Lake Tahoe:

  • Eurasian watermilfoil
  • Curly leaf pondweed
  • Asian clam
  • Largemouth bass
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Bluegill sunfish
  • Black crappie
  • Bullhead catfish
  • Bullfrog

NOT Presently in Lake Tahoe:

  • Zebra mussel
  • Quagga mussel
  • New Zealand mudsnail

Prevention Saves You Money

Preventing the spread of AIS into and within the Lake Tahoe Basin is a worthwhile investment. It would require millions of state and public tax dollars every year to try and manage a quagga or zebra mussel infestation if one were to successfully establish at Lake Tahoe. Infestations of these species would cost the community millions more in private property damage. Lake Mead spends $20 million annually to fight AIS, paid by state and local tax dollars. Thousands of watercraft have already been rendered inoperable by these nuisances.

Useful Links

To learn more about aquatic species in Tahoe, visit these informative resources:

Native and Invasive Mollusks

Native and Invasive Aquatic Plants

100th Meridian Initiative – Information on Non-indigenous Aquatic Species