Mandatory boat inspections for aquatic invasive species (AIS) will begin at Bloedel Donovan Park only, starting May 5, after Governor Jay Inslee announced April 27 that he is lifting some outdoor recreation restrictions.
The start of the inspection season was delayed in compliance with the Governor's “Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order. While changes to the inspection program are being pilot tested, all boats must use the Bloedel Donovan inspection station for their required annual inspections prior to launching in Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish; inspection stations at Sudden Valley, South Bay and Lake Samish boat launches will remain closed until further notice.
AIS permits and inspections are still required prior to launch and boaters should expect new safety protocols for increased protection of staff and the public based on state guidelines related to COVID-19.
“Things will be different at our inspection stations this year," said Teagan Ward, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator. “Inspectors will be taking additional steps to maintain appropriate social distance, so please give them space for their health and yours as they do their jobs."
New protocols that focus on the safety of boaters and inspection staff include:
- No cash or credit cards accepted onsite. Permits must be purchased online. Please plan ahead.
- New traffic patterns to increase distance from other boaters.
- Only one person from each vehicle should interact with inspectors.
- Inspection equipment will be disinfected regularly.
- Masks and gloves will be worn by inspectors.
- Equipment sharing and contact with the public will be minimized.
With these new procedures, boaters should expect delays at inspection stations. To save time, boaters can take part in a wire seal program, which speeds up the inspection process and reduces interactions with inspectors.
The Whatcom Aquatic Invasive Species Program is a joint project of Whatcom County, the City of Bellingham, and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish, the drinking water sources for over 100,000 people. More details about inspection station locations, hours of operation, permit options and fees, and the Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Course can be found at the AIS Program website at http://www.whatcomboatinspections.com.