Yellowstone boats must be inspected for invasive species

A commercial tour boat cruises Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park. (Yellowstone Gate/Ruffin Prevost)

A commercial tour boat cruises Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park. (Yellowstone Gate/Ruffin Prevost)

From Staff Reports

In order to more thoroughly protect the waters of Yellowstone National Park, all watercraft entering the park’s lakes must first pass an Aquatic Invasive Species inspection as part of the boat-permitting process.

National Park Service staff will also conduct daily required inspections, seven days per week this summer, for all boats that launch from Bridge Bay, Grant Village and Lewis Lake boat ramps, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office.

Aquatic invasive species are non-native plants and animals that can have significant negative ecological and economic effects on the park’s natural resources. Examples of destructive species that have become established in park waters over the past several years include New Zealand mudsnails, whirling disease and lake trout in Yellowstone Lake.

These species not only damage Yellowstone waters, but they may also harm the delicate balance of the entire ecosystem. They also require a great deal of time and money in personnel and equipment required to study them and remove them from park waters; in many cases, removal is not feasible.

Since 2009, Yellowstone’s AIS program staff has had contact with more than 7,000 park boaters and performed more than 3,000 watercraft inspections, which resulted in more than 120 affected boats being cleaned with the use of a non-chemical AIS decontamination treatment.

Motorized boating is allowed on Yellowstone and Lewis lakes.  Only non-motorized boating is allowed on most other park lakes, and permits are required for all boats and float tubes.

The park’s South Entrance, Grant Village Backcountry Office and Bridge Bay Ranger Station sell boat permits, while the Mammoth Backcountry Office, Lewis Lake Campground and West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center sell only non-motorized permits. The Northeast Entrance, Bechler Ranger Station and Canyon and Old Faithful backcountry offices sell only float tube permits.

Watercraft owners must pass an AIS inspection or have their affected watercraft treated prior to being issued a permit.

Information on boating and boat permitting in Yellowstone can be found at

Information on AIS can be found at

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