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New boat inspection program website and online incentive course

posted Apr 21, 2014, 10:32 AM by City of Bellingham
Whatcom County boaters can now find out how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) on a new, easy-to-use website: www.whatcomboatinspections.com. Boaters and community members are invited to explore the new website to find quick and easy access to vital information regarding the Boat Inspection Program, including program updates, fees, inspection locations, Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention information, and a link to the new AIS Awareness Course.

Community participation is essential in the effort to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species into our county's lakes. The public will play a key role in preventing the spread of AIS, according to Whatcom County's Natural Resources Manager, Gary Stoyka, "We consider this program largely educational in that we are working to create a level of public awareness that will enable people to self-sufficiently clean, drain, and dry their boats to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to and from Whatcom County waters."

The AIS Awareness Course is designed to further public awareness of the AIS issue. Successful completion of the course entitles participants to a $10 discount on each annual boat permit being purchased. The course takes about 30 minutes to complete and aims to educate participants on AIS prevention and boat inspection practices to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species to Whatcom County waters. Those needing permits for multiple watercraft only need to take the course once to receive the discount for all of their boats.

All watercraft using Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish, including non-motorized vessels such as kayaks and canoes, are required to be permitted and inspected for aquatic invasive species in 2014.

Permits and Day Passes

Motorized or Registered Watercraft (including all motorized boats as well as registered sailboats):
  •  Annual Permit ($50) unlimited inspections (valid through Dec. 31)
  •  3-Day Pass ($20) unlimited inspections (valid for 3 consecutive days)
Non-Motorized Watercraft * (including canoes, kayaks, and rowboats):
  •  Annual Permit ($10) unlimited inspections (valid through Dec. 31)
* A 2014 permit is not required for paddle boards, kite boards, or inflatables that are less than 10 feet in length.

Starting April 26, annual permits and day passes can be purchased by credit by credit card at the Bloedel Donovan and Lake Samish boat launches. For hours of operation, check the website. Inspection services are available by appointment for people with multiple watercraft or who are unable to trailer their watercraft to an inspection station—call the Whatcom Boat Inspection Hotline at (360) 778-7975.

Species of concern

Aquatic invasive species of particular concern are zebra and quagga mussels. These invasive mussels were first discovered in the Great Lakes in the late 1980s, and by 2007, had been transported west to Lake Mead in Arizona/Nevada. Since 2007, they have spread to waterways in several other western states, and watercraft contaminated with these mussels continue to be intercepted at our borders each year.

If transported to Whatcom County lakes, these mussels pose the risk of serious and costly impacts by damaging public and private water intakes, docks, boats, and other shoreline infrastructure. These AIS could also render shoreline areas hazardous and unusable for recreational users and property owners. Additionally, mussel infestations cause long-term taste and odor problems in drinking water and displace native aquatic species. "We are working hard, with the help of our community, to stay ahead of the curve on this issue to protect our drinking water supply and preserve our natural resources," said Jon Hutchings, the City's Assistant Director of Natural Resources.