Jackson Lake - Jackson
Grand Teton National Park is reminding boaters to operate their vessel safely and with regard to others. Photo: NPS // R. Zott

JACKSON, Wyo. — Local residents and visitors to Grand Teton National Park are reminded to do their part to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Those who recreate on park waters have a responsibility to drain, clean, and dry their vessel, as well as check fishing gear before launching in the park.

All watercraft entering the state of Wyoming—including Grand Teton National Park—must be inspected by an authorized AIS inspector prior to launching on waters within the state. Recreationists transporting any watercraft, including non-motorized vessels such as canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and inflatable travel vessels are required to stop every time they pass an open inspection station in Wyoming or Grand Teton National Park.

Park inspections stations are located in Moose adjacent to the post office and in Moran, north of the Moran entrance station. The stations are open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily through September 13.

Watercraft that are dirty or have standing water will require a more in-depth inspection and potentially decontamination. As in past years, park boat inspectors are issuing visitors an inspection verification card upon completion of the inspection. Frequent visitors should carry this card with them to expedite the inspection process during future visits.

Aquatic invasive species often have widespread economic, recreational, and ecological impacts. They can cause millions of dollars in damage to boating equipment and municipal water systems by clogging engines and pipes. Once an infestation has been identified, it can require costly cleaning regimens and repairs to infrastructure to rid them of the invasive species. A single boat or piece of gear that has not been properly drained, cleaned, or dried could introduce non-native species and have serious and irreversible ecological consequences.

It is much easier to prevent invasive species from entering the park in the first place, than it is to attempt to remove invasive species after they’ve already settled in. Boaters and anglers should follow these steps every time there is contact with any body of water:

  1. Remove all visible mud, plants, fish, or other tiny animals from your boats, trailers, and other equipment, including waders, boots, clothing, and nets.
  2. Eliminate water from all equipment before transporting anywhere. Much of the recreational equipment used in water contains spots where water can collect and potentially harbor these aquatic hitchhikers. Drain your boat hull and live well in a safe location (a flat paved, dirt, or gravel area) away from all park surface waters.
  3. Clean and dry everything that comes in contact with water before entering a new body of water. It is best to use high-pressure, hot water (available at car washes outside the park) to clean your boat, trailer, and gear.
  4. Dry Equipment. If possible, allow 5 days of drying time before entering new waters.

The aquatic invasive species of greatest concern to resource managers are quagga and zebra mussels. Quagga mussels are native to the Ukraine and were first discovered in the United States in 1989. Quagga mussels are considered to be an invasive species because they filter the water and remove plankton, which is vital food source for other native aquatic species. Quagga mussels can live up to 30 days out of the water.

Similarly, zebra mussels are native to Eurasia and are estimated to have been brought to the Great Lakes in the 1980s from ballast water that was discharged by large ships from Europe. Like quagga mussels, zebra mussels filter out nutritious algae from the water as well as attach themselves to native mussels, thereby paralyzing them.

Other well-known aquatic invasives include burbot, Rusty Crayfish, curly leaf pondweed and Eurasian milfoil.

In 2019, Grand Teton National Park recorded having 18,726 privately owned watercraft pass through the park’s inspection stations and park staff conducted 36 decontaminations on high-risk boats.

All boats are required to have a park boat permit prior to launching on any water in the park, including canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and inflatable watercraft longer than 10 feet.

A park non-motorized boat permit is $12 and a motorized boat permit is $40.

Park boat permits can be purchased via credit card at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose and the Colter Bay Visitor Center, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The permit is valid through the calendar year in which they are purchased.