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Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Programs

Inspecting and cleaning a boat to remove invasive plants and mollusks.

Many Western states instituted watercraft inspection and decontamination programs after the discovery of invasive mussels in Lake Mead in 2007 (Zook and Phillips 2012). As of 2018, nineteen states have implemented watercraft inspection and decontamination programs (Otts 2018).

This page contains resources on mandated watercraft inspection and decontamination programs, as well as some non-mandated but state-funded watercraft inspection efforts. This list below is not intended to be comprehensive, and all boaters should check with their relevant state agency before launching watercraft to ensure they comply with all regulations. To find U.S. state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies, see Members of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. And, see Watercraft Inspection Station Contacts [PDF | 277 KB].

View related information: Aquatic Invasive Species Decals

Spotlights

  • A New Decision Support Tool for Preventing the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

    • Mar 2024
    • USDA. FS. Northern Research Station. Rooted in Research.

    • A New Tool for Helping Managers Make Decisions about Inspections -- to help inform decision making, researchers developed AIS Explorer: Prioritization for Watercraft Inspections, a web-based decision-making support tool for optimizing watercraft inspection efficiency. The online dashboard incorporates data about which lakes are infested and how boats move among lakes in Minnesota (gathered from surveys at watercraft inspection stations), and it updates automatically as new entries are added to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Infested Water List.

      This decision support tool can help counties position their limited inspection resources strategically to protect the greatest number of waterbodies and safeguard the state’s ecological and economic assets.

  • Public Input Sought on Proposed Measures to Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species Into Yellowstone National Park

    • Mar 7, 2024
    • DOI. NPS. Yellowstone National Park.

    • Yellowstone National Park seeks public comment on proposed measures to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) into park waters. The proposals include a 30-day mandatory dry time for some types of motorized boats and sailboats before entering park waters and the prohibition of watercraft previously fouled by mussels regardless of dry time.

      The comment period will begin March 7, 2024 and be open for 30 days. The preferred method for submitting comments is online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/yellboats. Comments may also be mailed to: Yellowstone Center for Resources Attn: AIS Proposed Changes, PO Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190. The deadline to submit comments is Friday, April 5.

  • A Bi-level Model for State and County Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Decisions

    • Feb 1, 2023
    • USDA. FS. Northern Research Station.

    • Recreational boats are important vectors of spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) among waterbodies of the United States. To limit AIS spread, state and county agencies fund watercraft inspection and decontamination stations at lake access points. Researchers present a model for determining how a state planner can efficiently allocate inspection resources to county managers, who independently decide where to locate inspection stations.

  • Army Corps of Engineers: Better Data and Planning Needed to Combat Aquatic Invasive Species

    • Nov 6, 2023
    • United States Government Accountability Office.

    • Quagga and zebra mussels have spread rapidly across the country since they were first discovered in the late 1980s and, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials, have spread to every major river basin in the U.S. except the Columbia River Basin in the northwest. The mussels typically are spread by recreational watercraft such as boats, canoes, and Jet Skis that have been in infested waters. Once established in a water body, the mussel species are extremely difficult to eradicate because they have no natural predators in the U.S. and rapidly reproduce.

      GAO was asked to examine efforts the Corps has undertaken to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species into the Columbia River Basin by recreational watercrafts. This report [PDF, 3.24 MB] provides information on the Corps' Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Program and its role in helping to prevent the introduction or spread of quagga and zebra mussels—the aquatic invasive species of greatest concern to the Corps—as well as program challenges and opportunities for improvement.

  • Help Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species in Wyoming

    • Mar 7, 2022
    • Wyoming Game & Fish Department.

    • The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is offering training for members of the public to become a certified Wyoming aquatic invasive species inspector. The free, day-long sessions are offered throughout the spring in statewide locations and are open to anyone interested in preventing the spread of AIS through watercraft inspection. The training includes information on basic biology of invasive species, the impacts of AIS, transport vectors and distribution of AIS. It includes classroom instruction, a question-and-answer session and a hands-on watercraft inspection exercise. Those who complete the class will be certified to inspect watercraft.

  • NYDEC Launches New Aquatic Invasive Species Requirements for Motorized Boats in Adirondack Waters

    • Jun 6, 2022
    • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

    • The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced measures to prevent the further spread of aquatic invasive species in the Adirondacks. Changes to state Environmental Conservation Law became effective on June 8, 2022 and require motorized boat users to obtain certification that they have inspected and removed potentially harmful aquatic invasive species before launching in waters in, and immediately adjacent to, the Adirondack Forest Preserve. To learn more about the New York State Watercraft Inspection Steward Program, the new certification requirements, and where to find a boat steward, please visit DEC's website.

  • Utah DWR and Partners Announce Revolutionary New Method for Decontaminating Boats, Removing Invasive Quagga Mussels

    • Apr 8, 2021
    • Utah Department of Natural Resources. Division of Wildlife Resources.

    • The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Clean Wake LLC, the National Park Service at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other partnering agencies are excited to announce a new first-of-its-kind dip tank method (YouTube video - Lake Powell AIS Dip Tank) that will revolutionize boat decontamination in the fight against invasive quagga mussels.

  • Building Consensus in the West: Developing a Model Legal Framework for Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Programs

    • National Sea Grant Law Center.

    • Initiative of the Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species (WRP). The goal of the WRP initiative is to develop a multi-state vision for watercraft inspection and decontamination (WID) programs. The National Sea Grant Law Center is an active participant in this initiative, providing legal research support and leading efforts to develop model legislation and regulations for WID Programs.

  • Commercial Boat Haulers - Call Before You Haul

    • Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. Western Aquatic Invasive Species Resource Center.

    • To prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species, and others are making information available to boat haulers, auctioneers, marinas, manufacturers, and brokers to make it easy to comply with state, provincial and federal laws, prevent costly delays in transporting or selling boats, and help reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species.

      In December 2021, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) initiated a program to prevent delays during the transport of watercraft destined for the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The program, Call Before You Haul, provides a toll-free number (1-844-311-4873) boat transporters can call prior to transporting watercraft from outside the Pacific Northwest to one of the aforementioned states. The program was piloted in 10 states.

      The Call Before You Haul 1.0 program was initiated in late 2022 prevent the introduction and establishment of quagga and zebra mussels in the Columbia River Basin states and prevent the movement of aquatic invasive species via trailered watercraft. Call Before You Haul 1.0 consisted of creating a 24-7 toll-free number for boat transporters and working directly with state agencies that permit interstate oversize/overweight loads, including watercraft, to raise boat transporter awareness about trailered watercraft as a vector for aquatic invasive species. There remains a significant number of infested watercraft coming from the Great Lakes regions of the United States and Canada to western states.

      Call Before You Haul 2.0 expanding in February 2024, is an effort to work collaboratively with Great Lakes region entities to reduce interstate transport of aquatic invasive species — for the benefit of all states and provinces. 
      See also: Register for kickoff Call Before You Haul 2.0 webinar on February 22, 10-11 am PST.

  • Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Committee

    • Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species.

    • The Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Committee (also known as the Decon Think Tank) is focused on refining, improving, troubleshooting and sharing the best possible techniques related to watercraft inspection and decontamination programs.

Videos

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this subject, organized by source.

Partnership
  • Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz

    • Great Lakes Commission.

    • The Great Lakes AIS "Landing Blitz" is a multi-agency partnership effort and events take place over a two-week period (June 30 - July 9, 2023), emphasizing the need to Clean, Drain, Dry boats whenever they come out of the water, and Dispose of any unwanted bait in the trash. Local volunteers partner with state and provincial agencies to deliver consistent messaging about preventing the introduction and spread of AIS from the movement of watercraft and equipment between water bodies. Information on these events, including educational materials, locations and volunteer opportunities are posted on the Landing Blitz page as they become available.

  • New York Invasive Species Information - Watercraft Inspection

    • New York Invasive Species Clearinghouse.

    • People have been working to control aquatic invasive species in New York State for decades. In 2003, the state government took a leadership effort to identify and coordinate local and regional efforts. The Watercraft Inspection Steward Programs are a statewide effort that has stewards stationed at boat launches across the state, including Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, the Thousand Islands, the Adirondacks, Lake Champlain, Lake George, Saratoga Lake, the Hudson River and on Long Island.

  • Recreational Boating AIS Prevention Programs: Inspection and Decontamination

    • Blue Accounting.

    • Inspection and decontamination refers to the process of checking all parts of a boat to ensure that it is not carrying any invasive species and appropriately cleaning a boat if it is. This category examines how the relevant management agency implements watercraft inspection and decontamination programs throughout their jurisdiction.
      See also: Recreational Boating AIS Prevention Programs for more information.

  • Tahoe Boat Inspections

    • Tahoe Resource Conservation District; Tahoe Regional Planning Agency; DOI. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    • Watercraft are the largest vectors for spreading aquatic invasive species (AIS), such as quagga and zebra mussels into new waterways, making boat inspections a vital aspect of protecting Lake Tahoe and other nearby water bodies.

  • Watercraft

    • Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. Western Aquatic Invasive Species Resource Center.

    • Provides watercraft inspection and decontamination state information in the western states and Canadian provinces to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

      In December 2021, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) initiated a program to prevent delays during the transport of watercraft destined in the Pacific Northwest. 
      See related resource: Call Before You Haul

      See also: Key Documents (includes Quagga and Zebra Mussels, Watercraft and Inspection Decontamination, Coastal, eDNA, Education and Outreach, Wildland Fire Operations and Prevention, and Seaplanes)

Federal Government
  • Boat Launch & Inspection Stations

    • DOI. NPS. Curecanti National Recreation Area.

    • Motorized and trailered watercraft launching in Blue Mesa Reservoir are required to be inspected for aquatic invasive species prior to launching, and if necessary, decontaminated in accordance with procedures set by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. In addition to the mandatory inspection prior to launch, boaters are encouraged to get an exit inspection to verify the watercraft has been cleaned, drained and dried.

  • Boating - Permits & Inspections

    • DOI. NPS. Yellowstone National Park.

    • If you plan to use your own boat or angler float tube, you’ll need a permit and a free Yellowstone aquatic invasive species inspection. You can speed up the inspection process by arriving with a boat that is clean, drained, and dry. Watercraft that arrive dirty or with standing water will be subject to decontamination. Watercraft that cannot be properly decontaminated will be prohibited from launching.

  • Help Stop Aquatic Invasive Species - Glacier National Park Watercraft Launch Regulations

    • DOI. NPS. Glacier National Park.

    • Glacier National Park waters are generally open for boating from mid-May through October. All watercraft require an NPS inspection and permit before launching. Prior cleaning, draining, and drying of all watercraft, both externally and internally, will reduce inspection time significantly.

  • Mussel Decontamination - What Day Users Need To Know

    • DOI. NPS. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

    • It is crucial to keep the mussels from moving from Lake Powell to other lakes and rivers. Utah and Arizona state laws require you to clean, drain, and dry your boat when leaving Lake Powell using self-decontamination procedures. Additional steps are required if you launch on other waters without a significant drying period or if you are on Lake Powell for more than 5 days.

State and Local Government
  • Pennsylvania Launches Effort to Stop the Spread of Invasive Species at State Park Lakes

    • May 15, 2019
    • Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

    • Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced that the department is launching an effort at nine state parks this summer to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, and get boaters involved in invasive species detection. "Boats, motors, and trailers have ideal hiding spots where species may attach, and be transported to new locations," Dunn said. "Boaters must be involved in helping us protect state park waters from invaders, to benefit our environment and avoid very costly measures to treat lakes once these non-native species take hold." Starting this week, DCNR staff will be doing voluntary boat and trailer checks at boat launches on park lakes, handing out informational brochures and demonstrating how to do an inspection.

  • Aquatic Invasive Species - Rules & Stations

  • Aquatic Invasive Species Boating Information

    • Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

    • Please check this information before you transport your watercraft into Wyoming as this information will be updated regularly. This site includes detailed information and a map of inspection facilities including locations, dates of operation, and hours of operation. Any watercraft transported into Wyoming from March 1 through November 30 must undergo a mandatory inspection by an authorized inspector prior to launching in any water of the state. See also: AIS Inspection Location List.

  • Arizona Game and Fish Department Watercraft Inspection & Decontamination

    • Arizona Game and Fish Department.

    • If your watercraft has been in a Listed Infested Water [PDF, 116 KB] six or more consecutive days, you must have your boat inspected and decontaminated by AZGFD or an authorized agent prior to transport. To prepare for your decontamination, please click here. For more information about aquatic invasive species and AZGFD AIS regulations, visit Aquatic Invasive Species.

  • Boat ANS Inspection and Decontamination

    • Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

    • Motorboats and sailboats must have an ANS Stamp prior to launching in Colorado in 2019. Boat owners are required to purchase the ANS Stamp and operators must retain proof of purchase (electronic or printed receipt) on his or her person, the motorboat or sailboat, when operating the vessel (C.R.S. 33-10.5-104.5). ​Funding contributes to prevention and management of ANS in the state. Thank you for protecting our waters and contributing to conservation in Colorado!

  • Lake George Boat Inspections

    • Lake George Park Commission.

    • From May 1st - Oct. 31st, all trailered boats being launched must be inspected at one of the 7 regional inspection stations.

  • New York Aquatic Invasive Species - Clean, Drain, Dry

    • New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

    • Beginning on June 8, 2022, all boaters operating any kind of motorized watercraft in the Adirondack Park and within ten miles of the Blue Line are required by law to possess certification that, before launching, their vessel has undergone measures to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by following the Clean.Drain.Dry. standards described in NYS Regulation (6 NYCRR Part 576).

  • South Dakota Least Wanted - Boat Washing Tips and Locations

    • South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

    • The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks partners with the South Dakota B.A.S.S. Federation and private car washes to provide a list of boat wash locations that have lit, pull-though bays for easy access. Hot water may not be available at these boat washes. If your vessel has been moored in containment waters for 3 or more days or if AIS are attached, your boat must be decontaminated with hot water.

  • South Dakota Local Boat Registry

    • South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

    • The Local Boat Registry (LBR) was developed by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks to assist watercraft operators with compliance of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) possession and transportation regulations and to help slow the spread of AIS from "containment waters" to other waterbodies.

  • Watercraft Decontamination Form [PDF, 438 KB]

    • Utah Department of Natural Resources.

    • Before launching your boat, it must be mussel-free. It’s the law! Mandatory boat inspections are routine at Lake Powell, some state points of entry, roadside stops and other waters. This form serves as an inspection or decontamination receipt. A full year certificate can be obtained at wildlife.utah.gov/QuaggaCourse.

  • Watercraft Inspection Program

    • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

    • The Minnesota Watercraft Inspection Program was created in 1992, in response to legislation proposed by the DNR, Minnesota Lakes Associations, and angling groups. In 2011, legislation aimed at strengthening Minnesota's ability to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species was signed into law.

  • Watercraft Inspections

    • Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

    • ALL watercraft (motorized and nonmotorized) must stop at ALL watercraft inspection stations you encounter. Inspection stations are the first line of defense to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.
      See also: CleanDrainDryMT.com - Protect Montana Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species

  • Watercraft Inspections

    • Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

    • Idaho's inspection stations are placed on major highways at or near the Idaho state line. The purpose of these stations is to inspect watercraft coming from outside of Idaho. Inspectors will look for high-risk boats that have been in quagga mussel and zebra mussel impacted states. Boats will be inspected for any attached mussels and/or standing water and owners also will be asked where they have boated in the previous 30 days. It is important that boaters arrive in Idaho with a clean, drained and dry watercraft.

  • Watercraft Inspections in California and Vessel Restrictions

    • California Department of Parks and Recreation. Division of Boating and Waterways.

    • This list is provided as a courtesy by the State of California. Additional waterbodies may be conducting watercraft inspections that are not included in this list. Before traveling, boaters are encouraged to contact the managing agency to obtain current information on inspections or restrictions.

  • Waterway Access and Aquatic Invasive Species Permits

    • Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

    • Beginning January 1, 2020, the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Permit required for non-motorized boats 10 feet and longer will be replaced by a Waterway Access Permit. The AIS Permit will remain for out-of-state motorized boats and is included in Oregon boat registration fees.

  • Wisconsin Clean Boats, Clean Waters

    • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

    • Clean Boats, Clean Waters includes teams of volunteers, as well as some paid staff from the DNR, Sea Grant and other organizations. Boat inspectors help perform boat and trailer checks, disseminate informational brochures and educate boaters on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.