Aquatic Invasive Species
Clean, drain and dry your boat to avoid spreading the "STD of the sea"
Utah's scenic waters provide recreational enjoyment for boaters year-round. Before launching your vessel, make sure to get familiar with the rules and requirements of boating in Utah, and help stop the spread of invasive quagga mussels.
Note: Beginning July 1, 2023, all boaters — Utah resident and nonresidents — with motorized vessels must take the Utah mussel-aware boater course and pay the AIS vessel enrollment program fee through the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. (The Utah Division of Motor Vehicles will no longer accept payment for AIS vessel enrollment for Utah boaters as part of your DMV registration.)
Boats registered with the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles prior to June 30, 2023 do not have to pay an additional AIS fee (since AIS vessel enrollment was through the DMV prior to June 30). However, you are required to take the mandatory mussel-aware boater course and display a printed copy of the course completion certificate on your towing vehicle dash when launching a boat at Utah's reservoirs. Boaters are required to stop at all operating AIS inspection stations.
Do your part to stop the spread
While the presence of quagga and zebra mussels in Utah is currently limited to Lake Powell, these invasive species threaten all of Utah's waterbodies. Mussels at Lake Powell can attach themselves to your watercraft (e.g., boat, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, etc.) in as little as a day! Do your part to avoid spreading the "skiff-transmitted disease" (STD) of the sea by cleaning, draining and drying.
For more information about the process of cleaning, draining and drying your watercraft, see STDoftheSea.utah.gov.
Why quagga mussels are bad
- They plug water lines, even lines that are large in diameter.
- If they get into water delivery systems in Utah, it will cost millions of dollars annually to remove them and keep the pipes free, which can result in higher utility bills.
- They remove plankton from the water, which hurts fish species in Utah.
- Mussels get into your boat's engine cooling system. Once they do, they'll foul the system and damage the engine.
- When mussels die in large numbers, they stink and the sharp shells of dead mussels also cut your feet as you walk along the beaches.
What to do when leaving Lake Powell
DWR technicians are working on the ramps at Lake Powell most daylight hours to assist boaters in complying with state law and to ensure that aquatic invasive species are not transported out of the reservoir. Technicians help boaters drain water from their vessels and inspect for attached mussels.
When you leave Lake Powell, make sure your watercraft (e.g., boats, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards) is clean of mud, plants and animals.
Remove all drain plugs and sea strainers, if applicable, on the launch ramp and leave them out. Pump all water out of ballast tanks and drain water from the engine before proceeding up the ramp.
You are required to stop for watercraft inspection at the inspection station if it is open. A technician will assist you and provide you with an inspection receipt and apply a seal to your boat/trailer indicating that the boat has received an official inspection.
A professional hot water decontamination may be available upon a request, depending on staffing and the amount of boat traffic the station is experiencing.
Dip tanks for quick decontamination are available at some Utah waterbodies.
If the inspection station is not open, it is your legal responsibility to clean and drain your boat before leaving Lake Powell, and to transport your boat with all drain plugs removed, including the sea strainer. Draining of ballast tanks can best be accomplished by activating the ballast pumps on both an incline, and later on flat ground. Likewise, draining of engines should be performed on both an incline and flat ground.
There are over 40 inspection/decontamination stations located at various waterbodies and along highways throughout Utah. Find a station near you.
Self-decontamination certification form
Each time you visit a Utah lake, you'll be asked to complete a decontamination certification form. Remember: If it floats, it's a boat! Users of kayaks, canoes, SUPs and other non-motorized watercraft are still required to self-certify that they've effectively cleaned, drained (if applicable) and dried their vessel before launching in a Utah waterbody.
Mussel-aware boater course and AIS vessel enrollment fees
All motorized boats — including Utah residents and nonresidents — must be enrolled in the Utah AIS vessel enrollment program beginning July 1, 2023. Boaters must complete the mussel-aware boater education course each year they launch in Utah. This course is designed to educate the boater on quagga mussels, their impacts, and relevant Aquatic Invasive Species laws in Utah.
The AIS vessel enrollment fee is $20 for Utah residents and $25 for non-resident boaters. This fee must be paid prior to launching your motorized vessel in Utah and can be paid online. The fee helps fund the DWR's Aquatic Invasive Species Program, and more specifically, the watercraft inspection program.
For more information about rules and requirements for boaters in Utah, see the STD of the Sea website.
The DWR, together with its partners at federal, state, and local levels, works diligently to protect Utah's waters from invasive quagga and zebra mussels. This work involves the development of rapid response plans that would guide management decisions and actions upon the initial detection of invasive mussels in a Utah waterbody.
The Flaming Gorge Reservoir Rapid Response Plan outlines those steps in the event that there is a detection at Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
Proposed management actions of the Flaming Gorge Rapid Response Plan include:
- Complete access restriction for all watercraft at the reservoir for a period of 24–72 hours to allow for mussel verification.
- The prohibition of shoreline launching around the reservoir and restriction of all public launching of watercraft to six ramps during the first year after mussel detection.
- Implementation of exit inspections of departing watercraft at those six launch ramps during daylight hours from March through October.
Read the most recent AIS program annual report.