An Oregon crackdown uncovered an alarming number of boats coming across the borders carrying an invasive species that could potentially devastate waterways.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has set up inspection stations along both the southern and eastern borders of the state.
In just the last three months, inspectors decontaminated 17 boats coming into Oregon that were carrying invasive zebra and quagga mussels.
Last year, inspectors found only six infested boats.
ODFW said the invasive mussels are costing other states billions of dollars.
“Down in Arizona the infestation just started in 2007 and they're already paying in the millions of dollars each year on maintenance on their irrigation and hydropower systems,” said Rick Boatner, invasive species coordinator with ODFW.
Boatner said once in a lake or reservoir, the mussels collapse the food chain from the bottom up. And once they get into our water, there is no way to get rid of them. They can only be managed.
“On the Columbia for the 13 dams we're estimating $25 million just for the first year and that's continuously every year that money would be needed to maintain the systems,” explained Boatner.
This year, boat inspections are mandatory. That means if you see an inspection sign along the highway, you are required to pull over. Not doing so could result in a $110 fine.