Aquatic invasive species (AIS) pose a grave threat to the health of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The detection of invasive mussels in Montana in 2016 underscores the urgent need for action to prevent these destructive species’ from entering the park.
The park wants boaters to know six important things for 2017:
• All watercraft are required to have a boat permit and a Yellowstone AIS inspection before launching in the park. Watercraft include, but are not limited to, power boats, sail boats, canoes, kayaks, and angler float tubes. Permits and inspections are available seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at various locations in the park.
• If a boat does not pass the AIS inspection, it will not be allowed to enter park waters.
• Boaters will find moveable barriers at Bridge Bay, Grant Village, and Lewis Lake. The barriers are in place to prevent non-permitted, non-inspected boats from entering park waters. Permitted boaters with inspected boats can move the barriers to exit the water.
• If nonnative mussels are detected in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem or surrounding area, park managers will consider a temporary closure of all park waters to watercraft (motorized and non-motorized). The park is currently developing a rapid response plan.
• If nonnative mussels are detected in Yellowstone, a closure to all watercraft (except authorized NPS boats) would occur to prevent the spread to other waterways.
• Managers will convene a science panel to objectively evaluate AIS prevention and management in the park.
Take action. Ensure that you don’t transport AIS to Yellowstone and that your watercraft will be permitted to launch:
• Clean all plants, animals, mud, sand, and other debris from your boat, anchor, boots, and equipment. Use high-pressure, hot (120-140F) water if possible.
• Drain all water from your boat including the motor, bilge, livewell, and other compartments before you arrive. Leave drain plugs out during transport. Do not dump water or organisms from one water body into another.
• Dry all compartments and equipment in the sun for five days.
AIS could have devastating ecological, economic, and recreational impacts on the park. They are costly to manage and practically impossible to eradicate. Help the park prevent AIS!