Planning to boat on Lake Tahoe this summer? Also plan on boat inspections and a fee beginning June 1 to support those inspections.
“Our objectives are two-fold,” said Dave Roberts, District Manager of the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, the organization providing the trained inspectors. “One is to keep Lake Tahoe clean from invasives and the second is to allow continued boating on Lake Tahoe given the potential risk of invasion.”
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency began its attack on invasive mollusks such as quagga and zebra mussels last May when the Governing Board adopted new rules requiring all boats entering Lake Tahoe to be inspected.
The board’s action came after zebra mussels were found about 250 miles away from Lake Tahoe — at San Justo Reservoir — in January.
A year later, the inspection program is in need of a constant funding source other than grants, which is where the fees come in. The cost of the programs is estimated at $675,000 annually.
Fees will range from $10 to $60 depending on vessel size and most boaters will pay $30, according to the TRPA.
After a vessel exits the lake, an inspection seal (similar to a wristband at a concert) will be secured between the boat and the trailer. If that seal is unbroken, the boat can enter the lake without an additional inspection or fee.
Inspections could take about 15 minutes on average, said Ted Thayer, TRPA science team leader.
“If they show up with their boat cleaned, drained and dry it really speeds up the inspection process,” Thayer said.
In addition, four inspection locations around the lake will be offering free inspections through May 30: Cave Rock, Lake Forest, Ski Beach and Sand Harbor.
Kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized vessels can also be inspected, but are not required.
“While there is some risk, there is significantly less risk for quagga and zebra because they hold less water, and if you’re going to put your boat on top of your car you’re going to make sure it’s clean,” Thayer said.
As for boats in the possession of a marina or storage facility, it will be up to the facility to decide if the vessel needs to be inspected and at what charge, Roberts said.
Along with the inspections, boaters will also be asked to provide some information about their boats to help build a database for the Tahoe basin and the Blue Boating program, which is expected to be instituted next year.
Beginning at the end of May all boats entering Lake Tahoe for the first time will be subject to a mandatory inspection and fee that is based on the size of the boat.
Here’s how the fee breaks down:
Non-motorized vessels: Free
Vessels with intact inspection seal: Free
Vessels up to 16 feet: $10
Vessels 16 feet to 25 feet: $30
Vessels 25 feet to 39 feet: $40
Vessels over 39 feet: $60
Vessels containing ballast tanks/ bladders/live wells: $10 additional fee