HB 456: Invasive species sticker bill – 2022
ICL's position: Oppose
Current Bill Status: Dead
Issue Areas: Clean Water, Invasive species, Water Quality
House Bill 456 would remove invasive species sticker requirements for some non-motorized watercraft and shifts the burden of funding Idaho’s invasive species program to out-of-state boaters.
Invasive mussels have the potential to threaten Idaho’s waterways, including significant impacts to fisheries, recreation, natural habitat, hydropower, and our agricultural infrastructure. ICL and partners have worked to prevent these invasive species from entering Idaho waterways by advocating for a program to inspect boats that may carry invasive mussels into Idaho’s waters. The bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Okuniewicz (R-Hayden) would impact a key revenue source for the already underfunded Idaho Invasive Species Program.
Idaho funds vessel inspection stations, wash stations and informational materials through the sale of mandatory invasive species stickers. The invasive species sticker program brings in much-needed funding to prevent mussels from infiltrating Idaho lakes, rivers and streams.
HB 456 removes the $7 annual fee for paddleboards and canoes for both residents and non-residents and would increase the price by more than double for out-of-state boaters. While it’s true that motorized boats pose more of a threat, at least six non-motorized boats have been found at check stations…And many of the infested motorized boats have been registered in-state.
The fee structure should be fair and should be developed cooperatively amongst all user groups. Unfortunately, Rep. Okuniewicz’s bill failed to involve all the stakeholders involved and misses the mark, putting our rivers and streams at increased risk of infestation.
Why does it matter?
Zebra mussels and their cousin the Quagga mussels are freshwater species. Their larvae (called veligers) are microscopic and float in water. Invasive mussels can impact infrastructure by clogging water intakes on dams, that could cost millions to address. Mussels can also impact native ecosystems by outcompeting native mussels and other aquatic species. This could decimate the rare Idaho Western pearlshell, which was once considered the most common mussel in the Pacific Northwest and have been used since time immemorial by native peoples as a food source.
Once introduced into an environment, eradicating invasive mussels and snails is virtually impossible.
The Idaho Invasive Species Council is already underfunded, and this bill threatens to destabilize this crucial program.