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To stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, sailboats and other types of boats must dry for 30 days before launching in Yellowstone

Park ranger looks for aquatic invasive species on a boat in Yellowstone National Park
NPS / Jacob W. Frank
Ranger performs a Yellowstone AIS inspection at Bridge Bay

Yellowstone National Park is adding more measures to try and prevent aquatic invasive species from entering the park’s waters.

An AIS is a freshwater or marine organism or a plant that is not native to the area. AIS can cause ecological damage and harm infrastructure and water systems.

Two new requirements will go into effect this boating season, which opens Memorial Day weekend.

Sailboats and some types of motorized boats must dry for 30 days before launching in the park. And regardless of dry time, boats that have had mussels in the past are prohibited.

Yellowstone aquatic invasive species biologist Mike Canetta said quagga mussels were recently found in the Snake River in Idaho, about a four hours drive from the park.

“This is really a heightened level of protection now for the park in response to new detections of quagga and zebra mussels within the region,” he said.

Canetta said quagga and zebra mussels are not known to exist in Yellowstone’s waters, but the park is increasing monitoring efforts because an invasion could damage native fisheries and have other negative impacts.

Last year the park inspected just over 3,000 boats and either found or suspected aquatic invasive species on 16 watercraft. One boat with mussels on it was intercepted and prevented from launching.

Olivia Weitz is based at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. She covers Yellowstone National Park, wildlife, and arts and culture throughout the region. Olivia’s work has aired on NPR and member stations across the Mountain West. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom story workshop. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and going to festivals that celebrate folk art and music.