Are You Being Waterwise with Invasive Species?


Fall is here but there is still time for a few last glorious outings on the water! Water recreation and sports are a highlight of living in the Jackson Hole region. Whether it be lazy summer days spent paddling at String Lake or having a picnic at scenic overlooks around Jackson Lake all season, water sports make mountain living a dream. There is an ever-increasing threat to our waterways though and that is with aquatic invasive species. 

Aquatic Invasive Species and Grand Teton

Aquatic invasive species are non-native animals, plants, or microbes. They include quagga mussels, zebra mussels, curly-leaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, and water hyacinth. Left unchecked, these species can rapidly reproduce with no known predators. Learn more about aquatic invasive species and other ways invasive species pose a threat to the Grand Teton area ecosystem at this link.

Any motorboat that travels into Grand Teton National Park is required to stop for an AIS (aquatic invasive species) inspection before traveling to waterways. Help the rangers that are at these checkpoints by being patient and accommodating. They will thoroughly check the ins and outs of your watercraft - storage tanks, bilge board wells, rudder post, and more.

Did you know aquatic invasive species cost the United States an average of 1 billion annually in repairs from damages inflicted on infrastructures and industries in the United States? Mussels can clog water pipes and will remain stuck like superglue until reparation efforts are made to remove them. ( It is unsettling as aquatic zebra mussels have been discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota - not far away at all from the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and their waterways.

Source: (USDA.Gov Flickr)

Preventative Measures

What preventative measures can you take? There are several! Most important, is to let your boat drain and wipe/clean out any residue on all the nooks and crannies of your boat that may have come up from the waterways to prevent invasive species and pathogens from traveling on your boat to new waterways.

PlayCleanGo’s Top Preventative Measures:

  • Clean off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from watercraft, motors, trailers, and equipment before leaving water access. 
  • Scrub the hull using a stiff brush. 
  • Rinse watercraft, trailer, and equipment with high-pressure hot water when possible. 
  • Flush motor according to owner’s manual.
  • Jet Boats and Personal Watercraft (PWCs) users: Clean off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from the hull, trailer, intake grate and steering nozzle, etc. Run the engine for 5-10 seconds to blow out excess water and vegetation from the internal drive before leaving water access.
  • Sailors: Clean off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from the centerboard, bilge board wells, rudder posts, trailer, and other equipment before leaving water access.
  • Drain water from watercraft, motor, bilge, bladder tanks, live well, and portable bait containers before leaving water access.
  • Dry everything for five days or more, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.
  • Learn more steps you can take by visiting the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers page.

A few preventative measures and some personal responsibility can go a long way toward protecting the outdoor recreation areas we all love. Don’t forget to thoroughly clean, with hot water when possible, all of your watercraft after a recreation outing on the water. Let it dry thoroughly for five days before entering any foreign water bodies. Thank you for helping to keep Jackson and Teton County waterways pristine as you spend your last days out on the water this season!