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
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
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
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.
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
zebra mussel is spreading westward
across the country. This creature
and can damage boat engines, clog
power plant and public water pipes,
and threaten native mussels, fish
and wildlife by competing for their
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.
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,
Oregon Invasive Species Council Web site.