Aquatic Invasive Species

As water recreation grows, and invasive species become more common, it is critical that every paddler take an active role in protecting our waterways from aquatic invasive species, not only to preserve our pristine waters, but also to act as stewardship models for other backcountry and river users. Certified Wyoming AIS inspector, and owner of Rendezvous River Sports in Jackson, WY, Aaron Pruzan, provided us with a list of actions to take before and after every outing:

  1. It is best to clean your boat, shoes and gear in the watershed that you are leaving – as to avoid spreading AIS into a different watershed. See item 9 for gear cleaning.
  2. For packrafts and kayaks, a simple first step is to thoroughly clean them directly after getting out of the river with a large boating sponge.
  3. While cleaning, inspect for any foreign matter, plants, etc. Areas of particular concern for packrafts are where the floor attaches to the tubes on the inside. Also near self bailing holes and underneath seats and back pads. For boats with thigh straps and skirts – the thigh straps and cockpit rim should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. For boats that have internal chambers with storage, efforts should be made to keep water completely out of these chambers. If water does get in, then follow the steps listed above and be thorough.
  4. Once the boat is cleaned, I recommend leaving it inflated so it dries thoroughly. Once dry the boat should be inspected once more for any foreign matter and anything else could be vacuumed or removed with a damp sponge.
  5. Recommended drying times vary with the seasons, the current weather, humidity, etc. 48 hours is a good rule of thumb. If the boat is thoroughly cleaned, dried, and then baked in the sun, it is unlikely anything would survive after a day.
  6. Please keep in mind that you are cleaning and inspecting for both invasive plants and animals. Unlike mussel or snail larvae, most plant seeds are not destroyed with drying or direct sunlight, such as Tamarisk. That is why a thorough inspection is needed post cleaning. Again a shop vacuum is a pretty good tool for sucking out any and all unwanted things.
  7. If it is not possible to clean your boat in the watershed it is in, then please find a place to clean it that does not drain into a river, pond, lake or other watercourse. A thorough sponge cleaning (which doesn’t require much water), drying, and vacuuming are three effective steps that can prevent the spread of AIS. These measures are not harsh on equipment.
  8. There has been discussion about using bleach or other harsh chemicals. From my research, hardy invasive mussels can simply close for a period of time and avoid the chemicals. Chemicals are no short cut for the steps outlined above.
  9. Other Gear – footwear, skirts, life jackets and other gear that comes in contact with the water should also be cleaned following the steps listed above. Of these items, footwear is of the greatest concern. Stepping into an infected river, lake, or shore can cause footwear to carry AIS. Treads may require aggressive scrubbing to make sure they are clean. Being thorough is the key. Footwear and other gear should have no visible dirt, mud, or plant material outside or inside.
  10. For more information about invasive species and areas known to be infested go to any State game and fish department website to look up the list of infested states and waters. Any boating in known infested waterways should trigger an elevated level of vigilance after exiting, but never assume any waterway is free of AIS. For example, while Wyoming is still not considered an infested state (with regard to zebra and quagga mussels), invasive plant species, including Russian olive, curly pond weed, and rock snot, have been discovered on the Shoshone River. Let’s not unknowingly carry these invasives to nearby pristine drainages!

 

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American Packrafting Association

PO Box 13
Wilson, WY 83014
USA

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