New Boating Requirements in Whatcom County
Watercraft 16 feet or longer and/or operated by a motor with 10 horsepower or more are required to be inspected for aquatic invasive species and to display a valid aquatic invasive species permit sticker prior to launching or operating on Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish (BMC 12.12.280
and WCC 2.27A
). Failure to comply with these requirements can result in penalties of up to $1,000. Permits are not required for non-motorized, hand-carried watercraft in 2013.
Aquatic invasive species can easily be spread to new waters by watercraft that are being transported from one waterbody to another. Once invasive species become established they can result in significant impacts and management costs. By inspecting boats before they launch we can prevent the introduction of new invasive species to Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish. Please do your part to protect Whatcom County waters and plan ahead for mandatory boat inspections.
Annual Permit ($50) includes unlimited inspections (valid through December 31)
Multi-Day Pass ($20) includes one inspction (valid for 3 consecutive days)
- Bloedel Donovan: 2214 Electric Ave, Bellingham, WA 98229, 5 a.m. - 9 p.m., 7 days a week, get inspected here for Lake Samish launching as well.
- On-site Inspections: by request for boats kept on either lake that can't be trailered. Call (360) 778-7975 to make an appointment.
- Bloedel Donovan: Credit/debit cards only
- Online: www.cob.org/payments. Bring your printed receipt with you to your inspection as proof of payment. Credit/debit cards only.
- City Hall: City of Bellingham Finance Department, 210 Lottie Street, Bellingham, WA 98225, 8 a.m. - 5.p.m. Mon - Fri. Cash, checks, or credit/debit cards.
What to Expect at the Inspection
Inspectors are on the lookout for any animal or plant material on the watercraft that may pose a risk to Whatcom County waters. The inspector will ask you several questions about your boat and launching history and will then visually and physically inspect your boat for any evidence of aquatic invasive species. The hull, trailer, and interior compartments of your boat will be inspected. Inspectors will be ensuring that your boat has been cleaned, drained, and dried because some aquatic invasive species larvae can be transported on damp gear or in standing water.
Preparing Your Boat
You can make the inspection a quick and simple process by making sure your boat is clean, drained, and dry before arriving at the inspection. Remove any gear or equipment from internal compartments ahead of time and make sure all compartments are clean, drained, and dry.
If you cannot trailer your boat to Bloedel Donovan, you can call the boat inspection hotline at 778-7975 to schedule an appointment and receive information on how to purchase your permit.
Launching at Lake Whatcom Multiple Times
Boats launching at Bloedel Donovan are required to be inspected every time they launch unless they have been tethered using a Lake Whatcom Management Program wire seal. If you plan on returning to Lake Whatcom, ask an inspector about our wire seal program to speed up your next launch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Get on the water faster by remembering to clean, drain, and dry your boat before you come down to the boat launch.
- Remove ALL aquatic plants, animals, and mud
- Thoroughly wash everything
- Drain water from your boat, trailer, tackle and gear before leaving the area, including wells, bilge, and engine cooling water
- Allow sufficient time for your boat to dry before launching into other waters
- If you cannot perform these steps, have your boat professionally cleaned with high-pressure hot water (more than 140°F) before launching into other waters
Do NOT release pets, bait, aquatic plants, or aquarium water into the wild.