Boaters thinking the boat check station in Franklin isn’t a place they need to stop after being in the water of other states they might want to think again. The police are monitoring the station and will stop those who drive on by. They usually will not issue a citation but do require the vehicle to return to the check station.
The stations are inspecting anything that goes in the water, including life jackets, fishing poles, tubes and waders.
Reed Hansen, a boat inspector for the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation district, noted that the mussels they are looking for “are microscopic” when young and have been “found on the line of a fishing pole.”
Idaho is one of just four states in the Union that do not have invasive species like the Quagga and Zebra mussels in their waters and the state is working hard to keep it that way. Montana was crossed off the list in 2017, when mussels were found there. The stations are also watching for invasive plants like Hydrilla which is one of the most aggressive and environmentally disruptive aquatic plants in the world.
According to the Invasive Species Program under the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA),
“If any biological material is found on the boat or equipment, the inspectors conduct a roadside “hotwash” of the watercraft. This is done to prevent the spread of other invasive species such as New Zealand mudsnail, Eurasian watermilfoil, and hydrilla.”
Hansen said that if live mussels are found the inspectors must call the state and send a sample. The state then decides what to do and will typically meet the boat at its destination to do a complete decontamination.
Every state has different regulations and fees. If a craft passing through Idaho is contaminated the destination state is called and they handle the issue when the vessel reaches their border.
There are no fees for the Idaho inspections but anyone launching a boat in Idaho waters, unless it is inflatable and under 10 feet, is required to purchase an Idaho Invasive Species Fund sticker from Idaho Parks and Recreation. The sticker is already included with in-state boat registration. The sticker fees fund inspections, washing stations, and informational materials that will help Idaho prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species, such as quagga mussels.
Following is a link showing live updates on all of the check points in Idaho: https://idaho.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/91aa2987ab5542b08523d6a9056697d2
Clicking 'filter by station' on the top right side of the page will show the statistics of the Franklin County inspection site.
There are also stations near Malad and the Bear Lake North Shore. Lake Powell is a popular destination for Preston vacationers and it is considered infested water, as is the Colorado River in Arizona.
As of June 2, 2019, there have been 22 instances of invested vessels reported by the stations in 2019 alone. Two have been at the Franklin County station and seven at the one near Malad.
If invasive species get into Idaho waters they will affect far more than just sportsmen.
"The introduction of invasive species into Idaho could damage water use by native species, agriculture, utilities, and municipalities. If quagga or zebra mussels were to infest Idaho’s waters, as they have done in other states, it could cost the state nearly $100 million annually in damage and lost revenue," states the ISDA
Some of the most important precautions that can be taken to keep Idaho waters clean are to make sure equipment is clean and dry. The phrase used by Watercraft Inspection Stations is Clean, Drain, Dry.
Clean - Remove all plants, animals, and mud. Thoroughly wash everything.
Drain - Drain every space or item that can hold water.
Dry - Allow time for vessels to completely dry before launching in other waters.