Thursday, August 2, 2012

Order targets boats at 2 lakes - Denton Record Chronicle

Boaters who use Ray Roberts Lake and Lewisville Lake must now drain their boats before they leave those waters because of an emergency order enacted to help control the spread of zebra mussels.

Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director, issued the emergency order this week, adding Ray Roberts and Lewisville lakes to the list of bodies of water under special regulations, following the discovery in mid-July that the destructive species had been found in Ray Roberts Lake.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission earlier this year amended the parks and wildlife department’s regulations to require that boats operated on Texoma Lake and Lavon Lake be drained, including live wells and bilges, before they leave the lakes.

Draining water from boats prevents the spread of a microscopic form of the zebra mussel called a veliger, officials said.

The emergency rule allows a person to travel on a public roadway via the most direct route to another access point on the same body of water without draining his or her boat. The emergency action would extend the applicability of the current regulation to all impounded and tributary waters of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River above the Lewisville Lake dam, including Ray Roberts and Lewisville lakes.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the potential economic impact of zebra mussels to be in the billions of dollars.

Mike Cox, spokesman for the parks and wildlife department, said officials are presently just warning boaters.

“If we see a boat like that, we warn people, which is our standard policy for a new regulation. We would never go out and instantly start writing real-money tickets,” Cox said.

This emergency rule will continue for no more than 120 days. 

The parks and wildlife department will be preparing a non-emergency rule for consideration by the commission that would go into effect when the emergency rule expires.

For more information on zebra mussels and how to clean, drain and dry a boat, visit www.texasinvasives.org .

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is blewis@dentonrc.com .

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