Last weekend at Lake of the Woods, my aunt was given a $30 fine by a Klamath County sheriff's deputy for not having an invasive species permit for her kayak.
What is an invasive species permit? We've been using our kayaks up there every summer for years. Why the new rule? Does Jackson County also require this permit? It seems ridiculous to me.
— Sarah C., Medford
Sarah, $30 hurts. But don't hate the sheriff's department, hate the quagga and zebra mussels that have contaminated numerous Midwestern lakes, forcing other states to take proactive measures.
These invasive species hitchhiked their way across the United States on boats and trailers and, in 2007, were found in Lake Mead in Nevada, forcing the state to take action and other Western states, such as Oregon, to follow suit.
"Once they establish themselves in a waterway, they essentially filter out nutrients for all the other organisms," said Ashley Massey, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Marine Board.
Colonies of these mussels also can cause infrastructure problems, clog pipes and are impossible to eradicate, Massey added.
In 2009, the Oregon Legislature approved the Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program, authorizing a fee on motorized and non-motorized watercraft.
"All of the money generated goes directly back into prevention," Massey said. "The money that ODFW and the Marine Board get goes to enforcement, boat-checking stations (near the state borders), decontamination equipment, and education and outreach materials."
While owners of motorized boats are required to pay this fee when they register, members of the paddle-craft community (yup, that's what we said, the paddle-craft community) do not get that kind of notice, because their "crafts" do not require licenses.
Permits cost $5 and are required for all non-motorized watercraft 10 feet or longer, except for surfboards, sailboards and kiteboards. One-year paper permits are available at ODFW offices, or you can purchase a one-year ($5) or two-year ($10) Tyvek permit online at www.oregon.gov/osmb.
Sarah, if you're at Lake of the Woods this weekend, you can also pick up a permit at the marina for $7 (that includes an agency fee).
Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.