The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted Thursday to make permanent an emergency order adding Lake Ray Roberts, Lake Lewisville and the section of the Elm Fork of the Trinity that connects the two reservoirs to the list of water bodies under special regulations intended to control the spread of zebra mussels.
The emergency order had been signed by TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith at the end of July following the discovery earlier that month of the destructive invasive species in Lake Ray Roberts, which is north of Denton.
Earlier this year, the commission amended TPWD’s regulations that impact anglers and boaters on a section of the Red River including Lake Texhoma and Lake Lavon. All water needs to be drained from boats (this includes live wells and bilges) before leaving any water body with the special regulations in order to comply with rules prohibiting the transport of harmful exotic species. Taking this precaution is crucial in efforts to slow the spread of zebra mussels, since contaminated boats are one of the primary ways this happens. Draining water from boats prevents the spread of a microscopic form of the zebra mussel called a veliger, which is invisible to the naked eye.
The rule approved by the commission Thursday does allow a person to travel on a public roadway via the most direct route to another access point located on the same body of water without draining water from their boat.
The zebra mussel is a small, non-native mussel originally found in Eurasia. It has spread throughout Europe, where it is considered to be a major environmental and industrial menace. The animal appeared in North America in the late 1980s and within 10 years had colonized in all five Great Lakes and the Mississippi, Tennessee, Hudson, and Ohio river basins. Since then, they have spread to additional lakes and river systems, including in North Texas.
Zebra mussels live and feed in many different aquatic habitats, breed prolifically, and cannot be controlled by natural predators. Adult zebra mussels colonize all types of living and non-living surfaces including boats, water-intake pipes, buoys, docks, piers, plants, and slow moving animals such as native clams, crayfish, and turtles. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the potential economic impact of zebra mussels to be in the billions of dollars.
For more information on zebra mussels and how to clean, drain and dry a boat, visit http://www.texasinvasives.org/.
Logo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife