Boat Inspectors Protect Pristine Waters

Idaho Backroads
Posted at 3:41 PM, Aug 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-23 13:28:53-04

Richard Dye is a man on a mission. He's looking for invasive species hitching a ride on boats coming into and going out of Idaho.

One of the most dangerous stow-aways? Invasive mussels. If introduced to Idaho water, only a few could quickly multiply into millions.

 "It could take a matter of just a few years for a body of water could be completely infested with invasive mussels," Said Nic Zurfluh, Invasive Species Manager with the Idaho Department of Agriculture.
An invasion like that could be devastating to Idaho.
"You're talking damage to hydropower, irrigation systems, municipal water, recreation, property values, it's a wide and diverse impact," Zurfluh said.

Dye works one of twenty inspection stations throughout the state. In the island park. At the border between Idaho and Montana, searching every nook and cranny of every type of watercraft, to protect nearby waterways, like Henry's Lake, where people come from all over to fish for monster trout.
And Henry's Fork, whose crystal clear water comes out of the ground at a place aptly named big springs.
Henry's Fork is a blue ribbon fly fishing destination and a playground to thousands.
"These are gems in the state, they're beautiful places," Zurfluh said. "People go from all over the country to recreate in that water. That recreation would be deeply impacted with invasive mussels."

That's why Dye seeks out mussels and a variety of invasive animals and plants threatening Idaho's precious water. He meticulously looks for any spec of organic material. 

When he finds something, he fires up his power sprayer. Its high-pressure one-hundred-forty-degree water will kill mussels, snails, and any invasive plants that pose a threat. He and his counterparts throughout Idaho have eliminated hundreds of potential risks since the program began in 2008.
"We have inspected over a half million watercraft, and over 240 that had invasive mussels attached to them," Zurfluh said.

Dye says he's happy to be a part of protecting the water in the area he loves and he's glad to thank boaters who comply with the mandatory stop, by sending them off with a clean windshield.