Aquatic Invasive Species

Elodea infestation in Chena Slough, Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District.

Protect Our Waters!

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 (AIS), not only to preserve our pristine waters, but also to act as stewardship models for other backcountry travelers and river users. Rock Snot, Water Fleas, Quagga and Zebra mussels, New Zealand Mud Sails, Whirling disease, oh my. Mediation costs run into the $100’s of millions per year and can devastate lakes, streams, and rivers. The NPS was so concerned with finding invasive mussel larvae near Glacier National Park, it shut down recreational access for more than a year.

Spread the Word on AIS prevention, not the bugs.

AIS Decontamination Guidelines for Packrafters:

Know the water you are paddling and where you will be going next. Read up on the AIS risks. Traveling paddlers need to be very careful.

CLEAN: Before you leave the river, rinse off any mud, debris, and vegetation. Use a big sponge. Inspect your packraft, paddle, booties, gloves, wet/ dry suit, etc. to make sure nobody is hiding in the crevices and seams. Use a brush on your shoes.

DRAIN: On the shore, disassemble the spray skirt hoop, seat, open any zippers, and shake out your boat. Wipe  everything down with a towel working it into the joints where the floor and deck meet the tubes to remove any pooled water.

DRY: At camp and home, inflate your boat and hang your gear to dry.  Drying time varies by temperature and humidity, > 48hrs is recommended, adjust accordingly. During this time, run a towel about to ferret out any remaining water.

  1. If you cannot dry your gear, soak it in hot water. A 120oF bath for 5 minutes or 140oF for 15 sec kills most AIS.  120oF is near too hot to touch, typically the temperature of hot water directly out of the tap. 140oF will scald your skin. Check the temperature with an inexpensive $5 thermometer.
  2. No hot water? Find a boat inspection and decontamination station by calling the local land/water agency (e.g. State DNR, Forest Service, BLM) or an angler’s shop. Note, car washes are not hot enough.
  3. Watch out for laminated gear such as Gore-Tex dry suits, these should not be exposed to 140oF water.


Cannot dry or hot soak your gear? Traveling to new uncharted waters? Leave the packraft behind and go for a hike. Don’t be a vector!


This animation by the USGS shows how fast dreissena has spread into Canada and the West. And this map only shows where the mussels were observed, and may not indicate the actual size of the epidemic. Dreissena is not visible if you are carrying it on your boat. It is therefore essential that we Clean…Drain…Dry our boats after every outing to prevent the spread of dreissena mussles and other AIS into the West and higher latitudes, where it could have devastating effects on salmon and aquatic resources in general. Clean…Drain…Dry. Click image for more detail.


Contact Us

American Packrafting Association

PO Box 13
Wilson, WY 83014