The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) is offering free boat decontamination training to marinas and repair shops.
Dave Tunink, NGPC Fisheries Division assistant administrator, says the goal is to stop the spread of invasive species, like zebra mussels.
“Boats come out of Lewis and Clark Lake that have been there all winter, or the Missouri River, and they’re contaminated,” Tunink tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We don’t have the staff or equipment to decontaminate them when they leave the reservoir.”
Once a boat leaves the reservoir with live zebra mussels, the owner is in violation.
“So we want to say, ‘here are place you can go to get your boat decontaminated,’” Tunink says.
The cost of the program is covered by boat registration fees and non-resident boat stamps.
Besides receiving the training, Tunink says he hopes marinas and repair shops can educate boaters too.
“We’re trying to promote putting boats up on lifts, so they’re out of the water most of the year,” he says. “That way, the zebra mussels don’t attach. If you look at boats coming out of any of the marinas on Lewis and Clark Lake, boats on lifts are fine, but boats coming out of the water – they are covered with zebra mussels.”
Training is expected to take place in February or March with the session taking several hours.
“They’ll have to buy a hot water pressure washer, but then they’ll be able to offer that service to people at whatever charge they want to charge,” Tunink says. “Boaters are going to have to realize that these things are going to attach to their boat, and they’re going to need more work to winterize their boats, if they leave their boat moored in a lake for an extended period of time.”
Any operator interested in receiving the training should Tunink at email@example.com or 402-471-5553. They should provide name, phone number, location, and the days they would be available for training.
The marina and shop operators could become certified to provide decontamination services.