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Utahns urged to practice safe boating

Help Stop Spread of the 'STD of the Sea'

SALT LAKE CITY — As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, the Division of Wildlife Resources is encouraging all water enthusiasts to help prevent the spread of the 'STD of the Sea' by 'Practicing Safe Boating' on Utah's waters.

A quagga mussel at Lake Mead.

Quagga mussel at Lake Mead.

Photo by Natalie Boren

STD stands for skiff-transmitted disease — invasive mussels that spread by attaching to boats or getting into water that remains in boats after a day of boating or fishing.

"Invasive mussels are a serious threat to Utah's drinking water supply and the state's recreational waters," says DWR Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program Coordinator Jordan Nielson. "An infestation of invasive mussels can destroy fisheries, pollute shorelines and beaches, damage boats and equipment, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars to control."

Mussels have already infected Lake Powell. The help of every boater in Utah is needed to prevent them from spreading to other lakes and reservoirs in the state.

"The goal of the 'STD of the Sea' campaign is to help boaters understand how serious this issue is and how important it is that they properly decontaminate their boats and other watercraft," says DWR AIS Biologist Nate Owens. "If all boaters work together, our waters will remain clear of mussels. Once mussels infest a body of water, there isn't anything we can do to get them back out."

Drivers will start seeing more invasive mussels checkpoints around Utah, including at the state border, Bear Lake and Lake Powell. At these checkpoints, vehicles hauling boats must pull over so the watercraft can be inspected for mussels or standing water. If either is found, the driver can be cited. If necessary, the boat will be decontaminated with hot water.

The DWR is asking you to help prevent the spread of the 'STD of the Sea' by following this simple protocol:

1. Clean: Clean all plants and mud from each area of your boat, including your trailer, hull, bilge and other equipment.

2. Drain: Pull all plugs and fully drain all water from your boat, including live wells, ballast tanks, bladders and bilges.

3. Dry: Allow your boat to dry completely before you launch in other waters–7 days in summer; 18 days in spring or fall; and 30 days in winter (or freeze for 3 straight days).

Then, the next time the boat is used, the boater must fill out a certification form that verifies that the boat has been decontaminated. Failure to properly decontaminate a boat can result in a citation and fine.

Boaters can also have their watercraft professionally decontaminated, free of charge. To find a decontamination station, and to learn more about invasive mussels, visit STDoftheSea.com.

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