Authorities warn boaters of invasive species, plan mandatory inspections

  • Sonoma County Sheriff Department Marine Unit Sergeant Ed Hoener hands out information on the quagga and zebra mussel program to Santa Rosa resident Daniel Stewart, center, as Kimi Waller, 7, left, and Bobby Stewart, 6, listen on Lake Sonoma, May 27, 2012.

The effort to prevent an invasive species of mussels from getting into Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino, which could result in the lakes being closed to all recreation, began this weekend with an educational campaign aimed at boaters.

"We should be able to keep this lake and others mussel-free for a long time," said Sonoma County sheriff's Sgt. Ed Hoener. "If we can keep them out entirely, time will tell."

Hoener and two other deputies were stopping boaters on Lake Sonoma on Sunday, handing out brochures that described the threat and the efforts to keep the mussels from spreading.

Boaters were also told that Sonoma County is one of a number of North Coast counties that are putting together a mandatory boat inspection program that could take effect next year.

That was received with a mixed reaction.

"It would be inconvenient, I would rather have some kind of education program," said Daniel Stewart of Santa Rosa, who said he uses the lake six to 10 times a year and is very aware of the mussel threat.

Bass fisherman Charles Delight of Sacramento said an inspection program was acceptable, as long as it was set up properly and didn't cause delays getting on the water.

"I'm all for it, anything to keep it from spreading," Delight said.

The invasive crustaceans are zebra and quagga mussels, which are infecting some rivers and lakes in Nevada and Southern California.

The mussels are the size of a pinhead as juveniles and can grow to be an inch and a half as adults. They cling to boat hulls and docks, clog pipes and can cause boat engines to overheat.

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