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Bill Hinkley

Bill Hinkley

Program Director, Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET)

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Boating and fishing are great activities for the whole family. With the discovery of highly invasive zebra mussels in Laurel Lake last summer, boaters need to be especially careful when transporting boats between lakes to stop the spread of this species.

To help protect the lakes of Berkshire County, a new free boat wash is scheduled to be up and running in Stockbridge in time for Memorial Day. The wash, which works like a carwash, will clean and disinfect boats by running very hot water (>140°) to kill the zebra mussel larvae and juveniles that may be on a hull, in a motor, or elsewhere on a vessel or trailer.

Any boat – including motorboats, canoes, and kayaks – can be washed at the Stockbridge facility. Trained operators will be staffing the facility 40 hours per week this spring and summer. The boat wash, located at 35 Main Street in Stockbridge, is 5 miles from Laurel Lake and Stockbridge Bowl and accessible from Exit 1 or 2 off the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Zebra Mussel - Photo credit: U.S. Department of the Interior

Zebra mussels may be just the size of a fingernail but they cause major damage to lake and river ecosystems. Unlike most freshwater mussels, zebra mussels can attach themselves to just about any hard surface. Zebra mussels reproduce rapidly and cause severe damage to boats, docks, and pipes. Large infestations in other states have caused billions of dollars in damage and there is no known way to rid a water body of this species once it is introduced.

Photo credit: U.S. Department of the InteriorAdditional Zebra Mussel Photos

The best way to stop zebra mussels, or any aquatic invasive species, is to remember to clean, drain and dry your boat before moving to a new lake. Zebra mussels can stay alive out of the water for several days.

The boat wash was made possible through a grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, a trust funded with fees collected from specialty license plates.

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