Dear Sierra Club
members and friends of
We have written multiple
messages to you before expressing the need to protect
“Quagga mussel infestation can potentially lead to the closure of boating in affected waterways. They also wreak havoc with the environment, disrupting the natural food chain and releasing toxins that affect other species. Spread of the Quagga could result in millions of dollars in damage to water transport facilities.”
You may have heard of Invasive “Mussels.” In fact, you may have seen billboards, commercials
and other educational materials this year talking about boat inspections, with
references to preventing ‘hitchhikers’ from entering Lake Tahoe. These are all part of an extensive
multi-agency and organization campaign aimed at preventing the introduction of
these invasive mussels (Quagga and Zebra Mussels) to
Environment & Economy:
Invasive mussels cause extensive resource and economic damage
to our environment and economy (and our watercraft – read more below). Environmentally, mussels compete with native
species (and over time, they “win”) thus forever changing the native aquatic
ecosystems in our Lakes. They attach to
just about anything – including each other (they can form 1 foot
‘clumps’). In fact, mussel densities of over
1 million per square meter have been recorded in parts of
Examples of major resource damage and the costs involved with mitigating the impacts include:
In 1989 the town of
Swimming areas in
- Maintenance of pipes clogged with zebra mussels costs the power industry up to $60 million per year and temporary shutdowns due to insufficient water flow can cost over $5,000 per hour.
The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service estimates the potential economic
impact at $5 billion from 2000 to 2010 to
Beach covered with Mussels.
Beach covered with Mussels.
In addition to significant and irreversible environmental
damage, imagine the economic costs if this happened in the
Why There’s No Going Back…
Once even ONE watercraft (or any water equipment) brings
these mussels into our
Using boats and equipment in areas that are infested, then
using them in other lakes/water bodies is how these spread west in the first
place. Not only have the mussels made
their way to
While it may be common to assume that larger boats –
basically those that require boat launches to enter the
The ONLY way we can protect
help prevent their introduction by taking action ourselves and
getting other recreationalists to do the same.
***** Read below to learn HOW you can help ****
If you own a recreational boat, kayak or canoe*:
· Ruin your engine by blocking the cooling system - causing overheating.
· Increase drag on the bottom of your boat, reducing speed and wasting fuel.
· Jam steering equipment on boats.
· Require scraping and repainting of boat bottoms.
· Colonize all underwater substrates such as boat ramps, docks, lines and other underwater surfaces requiring constant cleaning.
What you can do:
1. First and foremost, the best thing you
can do is only use your boat in
2. Another lake-saving option is to save the fuel, launching and other costs of bringing your boat to the Basin and instead, rent a boat from local retailers.
3. If these are not feasible options, then at a minimum, do the following:
* Kayakers, canoers, etc. use those steps below which apply to your vessel.
One of the most detailed list of instructions we found for boat owners is at: http://wildlife.utah.gov/quagga/pdf/boat_inspection.pdf
with boats, the best option is to only use your equipment in
2. Another lake-saving option is to rent your rafting, tubing, scuba-diving and other water gear from local Basin
3. Otherwise, see these procedures recommended by the CA Fish & Game:
Quagga Mussel Diver Decontamination Protocols*
1. Check all gear that could potentially hide any veligers (include regulators, BCDs, wetsuits, masks, snorkels and any other dive gear),
2. Thoroughly clean all regulators, BCDs, wetsuits, masks, snorkels and any other dive gear, making sure to clean both the inside and outside of the BCD
to ensure that no mud or organic matter is present – use a brush if necessary.
3. After cleaning, rinse your suit, equipment and inside of BCD with hot (<40° C or 104°F) or salt (1/2 cup salt/gallon) water. Note, if you use the salt-water
solution, it is very important to thoroughly rinse the equipment in freshwater after your cleaning because the salt crystals can harm your equipment.
4. Allow gear, suit and other equipment to dry before diving in different waters. Veligers can survive for a period of time on wet scuba gear;
5. Consider using two sets of gear if applicable, alternating between set every other day.
6. If feasible, consider freezing your equipment overnight to kill any veligers.
Sampling equipment (nets, waders, boots, buckets, etc.):
1. All field equipment needs to be visually inspected and all visible mussels removed and killed.
2. All field equipment must be cleaned by soaking, dipping in, or scrubbing with a salt water solution. If one of these approaches is not possible, the
equipment should ideally be pressure-washed or at least rinsed with water (hot and/or high pressure if possible) and allowed to dry completely before
3. Particular attention should be given to places where the mussels could be accidentally trapped, such as the treads of boots and waders, hinges of
benthic grabs, etc.
4. If feasible, consider freezing your equipment overnight to kill any veligers.Make sure rafts and other materials are dry before rolling them up.
* These are instructions for divers researching mussels but the same concepts apply to all equipment and clothing used in lakes.
People and Pets:
Additionally, although the risk is low, people and pets can possibly transport larvae. It’s a good idea to clean personal belongings and clothes that have been in contact with the water. It’s also a good idea to wash dogs and other pets that have been in the water. Brush their coats and dry them.
How long you should wait in between
using your boat/equipment in other Lakes before entering
If a boat moved from a zebra-mussel infested area will be launched in waters that are not infested with zebra mussels, the general recommendation is to keep the boat out of water and let it dry for a minimum of 30 days after cleaning all equipment and draining all possible sources of standing water. However, such "quarantine" times may be reduced depending on local temperatures and relative humidities (this may explain the range of suggested “dry-out” periods found throughout the literature, however, 30 days is the longest and thus safest time period).
- To see the recommendations for the area you’ve used your boat in, visit this website and plug in the month and location: http://100thmeridian.org/Emersion.asp
We recommend you watch this video (“Don’t Move a Mussel: Part 1”):
For additional information, visit:
SPREAD THE WORD, NOT THE MUSSELS!!! We have a lake to save. And a way of life.
The Tahoe Area Sierra Club Group
 A Veliger is a juvenile (larvae) form of quagga mussels that is extremely small (smaller than the diameter of a human hair) and ‘floats’ in water.