MOOSE, Wyo. — Grand Teton National Park reminds visitors and local residents to do their part to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) and have their watercraft inspected before launching on park waters.
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.
The park is working in partnership with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to provide education, watercraft inspections, and monitoring to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species into Wyoming.
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 inflatables are required to stop every time they pass an open inspection station in Wyoming or Grand Teton National Park.
Park inspection stations are located in Moose, adjacent to the post office, and in Moran, north of the Moran Entrance Station. The stations open for the season tomorrow, May 21, and will operate daily 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Sept. 11.
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 wide-spread economic, recreational, and ecological impacts. They can cause millions of dollars in damage to boating equipment and water infrastructure by clogging engines and disrupting function. Once an infestation has occurred, it can require costly cleaning regimens and repairs to infrastructure to remove 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 permanent, 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:
- Remove all visible mud, plants, fish, organisms, or debris from boats, trailers, and other equipment, including waders, boots, clothing, and nets. 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 to clean your boat, trailer, and gear in a location where wash water does not enter another waterway.
- Drain your boat hull and live well in a safe location (a flat paved, dirt, or gravel area) away from all surface waters or drains that lead to surface waters. Eliminate water from all equipment before transporting anywhere. Much of the recreational equipment used in water contains compartments or areas where water can collect and potentially harbor these aquatic hitchhikers.
- Completely Dry Equipment for several days 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 ecologically harmful 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. Similar to quagga mussels, zebra mussels filter out nutritious algae from the water as well as attach themselves to native mussels, thereby paralyzing them. Economically, they foul infrastructure, increasing maintenance costs and impacting recreation.
Other well-known aquatic invasives include burbot, Rusty Crayfish, curly leaf pondweed and Eurasian milfoil.
In 2021, Grand Teton National Park recorded having 28,811, privately owned watercraft pass through the park’s inspection stations and park staff conducted 13 decontaminations on high-risk boats. The state of Wyoming intercepted two boats entering the state with live mussels on them in 2021, the first time live mussels were intercepted on a boat in Wyoming.
All boats are required to have a park boat permit prior to launching on any water in Grand Teton, including canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and inflatable watercraft. A park non-motorized boat permit is $17, and a motorized boat permit is $56. Park boat permits can be purchased online via Recreation.gov. The mail-order system allows boaters to plan ahead and have their permit mailed directly to them within two weeks. Boating permits can also be purchased via credit card at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose and the Colter Bay Visitor Center, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The permit is valid through the calendar year in which purchased.
A Wyoming State Aquatic Invasive Species decal is also required and can be purchased online at here or from a variety of local vendors.
All vessels must carry USCG-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) of the appropriate size for each person on board. Passengers under 13 years of age must wear a PFD.