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Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

Boaters and hikers can be unsuspecting carriers of invasive species

Unsuspecting boaters and hikers can harbor invasive species in the form of small aquatic plants and animals that hitchhike on their fishing and recreational equipment. Once these species take root in Oregon waters, they can upset an entire ecosystem, which is what happened at Diamond Lake in southern Oregon with a fish called the tui chub.  

A small minnow native to the Klamath Basin, the tui chub reproduced rapidly in Diamond Lake after being introduced to the lake most likely as illegal bait used by an angler. By 2004 the chub population in Diamond Lake reached an estimated 98 million, leading to dramatic declines in the rainbow trout fishery and water quality due to toxic algae blooms. The local economy also suffered from a drop in Diamond Lake recreation. After expensive restoration efforts, Diamond Lake is making a comeback. The story of Diamond Lake points to the extensive damage that invasive species can cause to Oregon waterways.

A number of Oregon agencies and organizations, including DEQ, Oregon Fish & Wildlife, Portland State University, Oregon State University, U.S. Forest Service, and Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation are working together to get the word out about how residents and visitors can help prevent the spread of invasive species. Boaters and hikers who go from one recreational area to another within the state, as well as out-of-state boaters and hikers, have the most important roles to play. Here are some tips to follow:

If you are a boater

  • Make sure your boat, anchor and trailer are free of live fish, fish eggs, aquatic weeds and animals, and mud before you take it in the water.
  • Drain your motor, wet well, and bilge on land before leaving the waterbody.
  • Empty your bait bucket on land before leaving the waterbody. Never release live bait into a waterbody, or release aquatic animals from one waterbody into another.
  • Wash down your boat, anchor and trailer after going in one body of water and into another body of water. It is best to use high-pressure, hot water. A garden hose will work if no other option is available. Air dry your boat and equipment for as long as possible. Five days is optimal.
  • Empty your boat's live well and bilge water away from the lake, then clean and dry these areas.

If you are a hiker

  • If possible, keep several changes of field gear for use in different bodies of water.
  • Clean all gear before leaving a site. A stiff-bristled scrub brush or high-pressure water is the best tool for this task.
  • Inspect gear before it is packed for transport. Visible traces of sand, mud, gravel, and plant fragments are signs that gear has not been properly scrubbed.
  • Help spread the word to friends and fellow hikers about how to prevent the spread of invasive species.


Invasive Species to Keep a Watch On

  • The New Zealand mudsnail has made its way into some Oregon estuaries, lakes, rivers and streams. This tiny creature, less than 5 mm long, competes with native invertebrates for food and habitat, and can have a detrimental impact on fish populations, vegetation, and other native biota. For more information, visit

  • The zebra mussel is spreading westward across the country. This creature reproduces rapidly and can damage boat engines, clog power plant and public water pipes, and threaten native mussels, fish and wildlife by competing for their food.

  • The mitten crab, native to Asia, has infested rivers in California. The mitten crab can eat salmon, trout and sturgeon eggs, and in large populations can cause damage to levees and increase bank erosion.

If you spot a potential invasive species in Oregon, call the Invasive Species Hotline, 1-866-INVADER (1-866-468-2337). To learn more about invasive species that threaten Oregon’s environment, visit the Oregon Invasive Species Council Web site.

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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
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