The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has an affirmative message for boating enthusiasts.

Rather than prostrate themselves before the growing army of invasive species, recreational boaters can and should take action. More to the point, boaters should clean, drain and dry their vessels and ancillary equipment.

Stephanie Helms is executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. She is quoted in a press release as saying, "We need your help to protect Washington waters. And the best way for any Washingtonian to help protect our waterways from hitchhiking invasive species" is to heed the protocols outlined below.

"Non-motorized watercraft" should be checked thoroughly for any vestige of "aquatic plants, animals, and mud...scrub hull using a stiff brush. Rinse watercraft, trailer and equipment with high pressure hot water, when possible."

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"Drain water from watercraft, sponges, bailers, and water containing devices before leaving water access."

"Dry everything 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."

Click here for instructions on fortifying a motor boat against the elements.

Why does this have to be done? Because aquatic invasive species are stubborn and clingy; they literally self-attach to watercraft, according to the WDFW press release. Eurasian milfoil, which multiply quickly and overwhelm native species, are particularly pesky. These plants continue to menace Washington waterbodies.

Quagga and zebra mussels were detected in South Idaho last fall, but so far their reign of destruction has precluded Washington. The WDFW considers quagga and zebra mussels "high priorities for prevention."

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Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela

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