By Ralph Schwartz
This spring, Bellingham and Whatcom County are working in concert (you heard me right) to establish a new inspection program around Lake Whatcom, and a fee for most boaters on the lake.
The effort is aimed at keeping nasty quagga and zebra mussels out of the lake. They are encroaching on the western U.S., and once they take hold they take over. The rapidly spreading shellfish would threaten the water intakes for Bellingham’s water supply and generally make a mess of everything else they touch.
The problem is not just Whatcom County’s. No jurisdiction wants these things in their lake. So the state Legislature has proposed that boats entering the state have the proper papers, documenting they are invasive-species free.
This is a summary of the bill from Washington Votes:
Senate Bill 5702: Concerning aquatic invasive species
Passed 46 to 0 in the Senate on March 11, 2013, modifies current law to require a person who enters Washington by road and is transporting a watercraft used outside of the state to have documentation that the watercraft is free of aquatic invasive species (AIS). This makes the documentation requirement apply to watercraft used in any area outside of Washington, not just those areas specifically identified by Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) rule. DFW must adopt rules to implement the documentation requirement, including identifying the types of allowable documentation. Language relating to DFW’s AIS check station authority is modified consistent with the changes to the documentation requirement. A new infraction is created for transporting watercraft into Washington by road without meeting the AIS documentation requirement. In addition to the changes to AIS documentation requirements, the Aquatic Nuisance Species Committee is abolished.
See Who Voted “Yes” and Who Voted “No.”
Go to the state Legislature’s bill information page here.