Invasive Aquatic Species at Cachuma Lake
updated: Apr 15, 2014, 12:00 PM
Source: Santa Barbara County Parks Department
Cachuma Lake Given Maximum Protection from Invasive Species Santa Barbara County Extends Vessel
Quarantine to 30 Days
The County of Santa Barbara Community Services Department Parks Division has received Board of
Supervisor's approval to increase protection from aquatic invasive species at Cachuma Lake. Staff will be
enforcing a 30 day vessel quarantine on all trailered vessels entering Cachuma Lake, which is an extension
of the current 14 day quarantine period. A longer quarantine period provides additional protections
against the invasive species.
There are two exceptions to the new quarantine policy: 1) Vessels that already have a Cachuma Lake boat
launch security tag will not have to be inspected, and 2) Kayaks and canoes will be allowed to launch after
passing the inspection program power wash. With more stringent quarantine protocols the lake can
continue recreational boating. The County has been conducting Aquatic Invasive Species inspections on
vessels being launched at Cachuma Lake since 2008. To date, staff has no indications that Cachuma Lake
has been exposed to Quagga or Zebra Mussels, and early detection monitoring has detected no mussels. In
December 2013, mussels were discovered in Lake Piru, 55 miles from Cachuma Lake. Lake Piru is the first
lake infected by the Quagga Mussel that is not fed by the Colorado River system. As a result, it is necessary
for the County of Santa Barbara Parks Division to strengthen its inspection and quarantine protocols.
Quagga and Zebra Mussels (Mussels) are non-native aquatic nuisance species originating in Eastern Europe
freshwaters. They clog waterways, undermine healthy lake ecosystems, and create costly maintenance for
water resource agencies. Mussels are believed to have been introduced into the Great Lakes region in 1988
through ballast water emptied from ships, and they spread throughout the Midwest and the eastern portion
of the United States.
Quagga Mussels were first discovered in the Colorado River system in January 2007 and have recently been
found in 25 Southern California water bodies connected to the Colorado River via aqueducts and canals.
Zebra Mussels were discovered in San Justo Reservoir in San Benito County in January 2008. Mussels spread
primarily by two methods: (1) Adult mussels that have adhered to surfaces, such as a boat hull, and are
introduced to a water body or system, or; (2) Microscopic larval forms, known as "veligers", that live in the
water column and can survive in water carried by recreational boats in bilges, live wells, and other areas
where water can pool and remain, and are transported into a water body or system. The spread of the
Quagga Mussel in California is becoming a significant concern due to the economic and environmental
impacts associated with their introduction and proliferation.
Quagga Mussels cause the greatest economic damage when they infest pipes, pumps, or other components
of municipal and industrial water supply systems or power plant cooling systems. Ecosystem changes can
include depletion of planktonic species and altering food webs, decrease in average weight of sport fish,
increase in aquatic plant growth, fouling of water due to invasive algae species, and fouling of shorelines
due to mussel shell debris, among other detrimental effects.
To mitigate the inconvenience of a longer quarantine, the Community Services Department Parks Division
will be implementing inspection/tagging stations at the Waller Park and South County Operations offices on
a monthly basis by appointment. This will allow boaters to have their vessels inspected and tagged, starting
the 30 day quarantine period, without having to travel to the lake and therefore potentially saving boater
time and money. Inspections at the lake will still be done without appointment from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Cachuma Lake has trailer storage available for those boaters wishing to store their vessels during
quarantine; please call (805) 686-5050 Monday through Friday for information. In addition, the Cachuma
Lake Marina and Boat Rentals offers a variety of watercraft to rent; the Boat Rental phone number is (805)
For the full text of the Cachuma Lake Boat Launch Protocols, please visit the Parks website, at
HELP STOP THE SPREAD OF INVASIVE SPECIES
In an effort to prevent the potential spread of any invasive species, we also advise all boaters to take the
following measures upon departure from any fresh water body, whether or not contaminated with quagga
or zebra mussels:
1. Inspect all exposed surfaces - small mussels feel like grains of sand that will move.
2. Wash the hull of each watercraft thoroughly. Preferably with hot water greater than 140 Fahrenheit
3. Remove all plants and animal material.
4. Drain all water and dry all areas.
5. Drain and dry the lower outboard unit.
6. Clean and dry all live-wells.
7. Empty and dry any buckets.
8. Dispose of all remaining bait in the trash.
9. Do not move bait from one water body to another
10. Wait 5 days in hot weather and up to 30 days when cool and moist
11. Keep watercraft dry between launches into different fresh waters.
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