Re: Whatcom boat inspection program

debbie natelson

Reivers, you are most welcome and thank you and all the Whatcompaddlers, Wake, BBOP, City Staff, and all attending parties for making such a good cooperative -- and proactive effort. Sorry I've not responded to your email all day. Cramming on some job apps and in one-track mind. Oh how sick I am of myself and describing all the things I have done in my career.  Zebra mussels have never seemed a sexier topic. :)

Steve, thanks for checking in on the situation -- and sending those links.  Believe me, Reivers, WhatcomPaddlers, and much of the Bellingham non-motorized boating community are well aware of those links and getting even more indoctrination from programs all over the country.  The situation is very real and B-ham is being very proactive about it.

I'm giving the short version now as I am in midst of yet one more cover letter - gag, but will update you all with more details soon.

The situation:  The zebra mussel (native of the Caspian Sea) and its cousin the quagga mussel are indeed, invasive aquatic species that inhabit and take over fresh water lakes, creeks and streams. Lakes in the Midwest, California and other areas are severely impacted by this invader.  Fortunately, neither Lakes Whatcom nor Samish are infested -- at this time. But because a threat exists -- as does when there is a known presence in other Western states (drivable distance), and even some in WA State, (Columbia River, Capital Lake) --  then there is potential spread by boats visiting infected waters and then entering Whatcom Co. lakes, then all efforts must be made to prevent infestation.  Aggressive efforts at prevention are the law.   In terms of triage, prevention is given higher priority than control.  Nip it in the bud.

Invasive species control is always cheaper and easier to carryout preventatively, rather than curatively!

All non-motorized boats (except SUPs) -because they have the potential to spread the invasive species from infected waters to Lakes Whatcom and Samish, will soon have to be inspected and then stickered with an approved permit tag -- in order to paddle/row on these waters.

Why just these two lakes and the big scare?  These lakes are a Pubic Water Supply!
While invasive mussels can be a threat to water quality; native shellfish species; and recreation -- there is a much bigger, more $$$ issue at stake, one that makes agencies react. Invasion of zebra mussels can potentially threaten the infrastructure which brings water to 95% of homes around Lake Samish and  about 96,000 Whatcom County residents from Lake Whatcom.  Yes, the City and County are quite motivated to keep these invaders out -- as should be many citizens who depend on these water sources. Not to mention the general ecology of the lakes.

Whatcompaddlers will send more info soon, but the gist of the program is about education:  getting the public to know how the critters get into and on boats -- and how they/we can remove them and the steps to prevent chance for a hitchhiker on your boat.

There will (by next month, April) be an online training about the zebra mussels that non-motorized boaters can/should take.  And by taking this course, this will give you a $10 credit which will negate the cost of the permit (which is also $10 for non-motorized craft). So, it is currently FREE to non-motorized watercraft.  While there is fear that the agencies will soon jack up the fee for our types of boats, b
elieve me, an educated boating community, practicing proper boat "hygiene"  can prove of greater value to the City and County than the cost of the permit fees.

So what are these permits and how will a visitor -- such as all the many boats that come up to Whatcom and Samish for SoundRowers races get these permits and inspections? Sounds daunting, I know, but it will be easier to comply than you think.

Whatcompaddlers are working with the program administrators to hopefully, have deputized citizens (Whatcompaddlers, Wake Kayakers, Whatcom Rowing Assoc members, etc) who can do the inspections (and trainings if necessary) before the races.  For those of you who used to do the beloved and now sadly defunct San Juan Challenge, remember how we used to have to get a boat/pfd/whistle inspection Before start of the race?  Well, see living proof that it can be done. There were many boats in those races but with proper organization, as they had we all got inspected-- even procured a whistle or better pfd -- and the race went of without a hitch.

Your job -- as helpful SoundRowers -- exemplary stewards of the Puget sound waters (fresh and saltwater)  will be, (once the online training course is available), to take the little training.   That will really speed up the process, save you $ - and get you and your clean/dry boat through the inspection line pronto.

While it may seem like a bit of a hassle, no more so than having to get a Discover Pass which is for a really good cause.   Just think of the great public shoreline access discover passes help to provide.  You could do it online or at a retailer.  Similarly, you can take the invasive aquatic species prevention training online before the race and speed things up -- or get the info at the park day of race. But that will hold things up a bit.

While the potential for non-motorized boats to be a vector for spreading  these invasive mussels and their larvae is much lower than for power boats -- especially ones that are left in the water, tied at a dock -- the threat is still there.  (SUPs are currently exempt here in WA.)  Think about it -- for anyone who has paddled a regular sea kayak or any boat with an enclosed cockpit.  It you are launching from the water, which you must do at Lake Whatcom, you can scoop up water and sediment into your booties/sneakers as you get in the boat.  Water gets inside the cockpit for variety of reasons. And then getting out of the boat -- especially after long paddle or race, another opportunity to get water into the cockpit This is especially when tired or less experienced paddlers try to step out to the side of their boats, they lean on edge and let water in.   Sometimes someone offers to help you carry boat al the way up to the car. You snap at chance and toss the boat up on the car, sometimes with some water still in it.

In the reverse -- if you were coming from an infested water body back to Whatcom or Samish, you might choose to dump at the shoreline the water that was sloshing in your boat, just before getting in.  Ooops, you just contaminated Lake Whatcom.  The potential is lower, but still very possible for non-motorized boats to transfer adult mussels or microscopic larvae.

re: taking the training course, which you will be sent more notice about (and in a much cleaner, more organized fashion. I am now just spouting off in between resumes, apps, and cover letters).  Please do take the online training.  If you are a water enthusiasts, as I think all of us are as SoundRowers and Paddlers, then this aquatic invasive species issue will come up again, even if you don't go to the Lake Whatcom or Samish race.  You too can be proactive about preventing such infestations. 

And I strongly encourage not only get the training, but make an extra effort to attend these Bellingham races -- proudly flaunting your permit label on your boat.  Just imagine the collective statement we can make with flotillas of non-motorized boats plying the lakes, all in compliance -- and hopefully, showing up the motorized boat world. 

 Thanks for bearing with this long email.  But important info.

More to come in more easily digestible formats.  Something is screwed up on my Yahoo email, ever since they supposedly updated it with new and improved.  Now I can't Bold or Italicize, or highlight anything.  And cursor keeps hopping up to top of email. 

Hope you are all gearing up for Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race this weekend.  Don't worry, no permit nor invasive species training needed for this race.  Just you, your seaworthy craft, and zest to test your well honed rough water skills.


On Thursday, March 13, 2014 8:07 PM, steven wort wrote:
Coming a little late to the conversation, but I am wondering what has recently changed that makes this such a hot issue all of a sudden?
Is there some new Invasive Species that everyone is running scared from, or just new legislation trying to catch up on the Zebra muscle problem?
FYI, I found the WA AIS site here -
which has links to recent reports to legislature.  The 2012 report is here
Is this really about inspection, or more about the permit fee with the goal of raising funds to pay for other elements of the program? (recommendation 4 in the 2012 report)
To: deborow1@...
CC: SoundRowers@...
From: reivers@...
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 06:32:08 +0000
Subject: Re: [SoundRowers] Whatcom boat inspection program

Thanks for showing up Debbie.  As you heard we just took our beginning step:  mainly to get a few of us set up to speak with the city/county about how to make this work. 
the points we are looking for consensus on:
-cooperate to protect local waters
-protect and facilitate events in local waters
-handle multiple boats for area paddlers/rowers
-advance the cause of human powered use
there is some tension about this issue.  The driver is a really huge threat to water supplies, property values, use of the lakes.  (I had no idea how serious this was a month ago.)  Lake Mead is infested and forced to spend $20 MM per year just to keep water supplies functioning.  Bellingham has a wide open exposure to the problem.  On the other hand, no human powered boats are registered or licensed.  Enforcement on the water is a lost cause.  We need to get something in place that stops the bugs at point of entry.  Procedure only works because people make it work. 
I'm pretty sure soundrowers is going to find themselves engaged in future. 

From: "debbie natelson"
To: reivers@..., SoundRowers@...
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 3:48:44 PM
Subject: Re: [SoundRowers] Whatcom boat inspection program

Not sure if any other SoundRowers members from the south are coming, but, I will try to be there as well.  I had written out a whole email response, offering some food for thought or perhaps just some other perspectives and with some questions  but alas, techno gremlins invaded and email vanished into ether before I could send it.  (unreliable Internet at my house).  If time permits, I'll try to recap before the meeting, but more likely will just express in person.

Debbie Natelson

On Thursday, March 6, 2014 10:50 PM, "reivers@..." <reivers@...> wrote:
Lake Whatcom and Sammish lake are planning to subject kayaks, canoes, rowing shells to inspection/permit fee summer of 2014.  We are sensitive to this potential hassle for our cherished visiting competitors.  We just found out and after letting our blood cool a bit, we're working out a response.  Any Soundrower members will be welcome at the meeting refered to below.  Also, I'll attempt to monitor your replies to this message for any input to our plans.  You can also post on whatcompaddlers group. 
 - - - - - -
NEWS: We need a meeting with everyone possible right after the Wed Niter next week. A dedicated few paddlers found about about this permitting thing and have been working it. Duncan offers his offices:
Mt Baker Rec Offices / 1420 Iowa Street. Next to the Gym. 7:30pm Food will be on hand (donations?)

We need everyone in human powered craft: WAKE, WRA, Autumn Rose, Nooksack paddlers, Kai Pana OC club, Kayak Polo, Sound Rowers, visitors, residents ... BBoP: Jill is on this and she's our SME (Subject Matter Expert: AIS is Aquatic Invasive Species).
Background: we're being messed with because we are unknown to politicals. The powerboats yelped last year and the politicals are responding. AIS sources are Capital Lake (in WA), Columbia river, Eastern lakes in U.S. The program will start along with fishing season (no inspections for a while yet). The program is not solid yet, but something like: every watercraft gets a sticker (with serial number). A sticker costs $10 for non-motorboats. I think $30 for powerboats. Certificate from an on-line tutorial gets $10 credit.

Plan: right away build OUR plan, get buy in from you folks, slam it down in front of City/County. Our plan will focus on: 1) protect events (Wed Niter, Whatcom Classic, Lake Sammish race). 2) provide for mulitiple boats (I have three that I might paddle). 3) facilitate visitors, guests, instruction events (i.e. Greg B classes). Some ideas around this are to nominate auditors or examiners within our paddling/rowing groups and keep ability to provide stickers to handle visitors who show up for Wed Niter or other event. Later in our plans we can find what other communities with this problem are doing and refine. For any success our plan has to be nailed in the next week or two.

Backstory: We've been crapped on, but let's judo this thing - play nice. at first. First of all, we love these waters and most of us are active super-responsible citizens. Many of us have scientific or technical backgrounds and truly understand the basis. Also, we want recreation in Whatcom County to thrive. Second: we can make this work to some advantage. If they are going to poke us, then we have some ideas for improvement around here dammit. Third: we have an advantage since our boats are not registered and don't require boatlaunch. If it comes down to it, we can throw down some righteous civil disobedience.

Last thoughts: No letters to the editor, if you know people in paddle/rowing groups get the word to them. WAKE club just found out (and they have lots of skin in this - i.e. Swap Meet). Another thing: because this is so time sensitive try to get your two bits out at this meeting or to the message board. There's just a couple of people carrying the ball right now and we can't really do Roberts Rules debate crap with 75 people. Oh, and can someone put a sedative in Rick Lingbloom's beer for the evening. He's such a flamethrower (if you know Rick you know that he's about the most even-tempered guy there is.)



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