The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) has issued an executive order effective immediately to expand zebra mussel regulations to include all impounded and tributary waters of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River above the Lake Lewisville dam.
New regulations went into effect May 17 requiring boaters on Lakes Texoma and Lavon to drain all bait buckets, livewells, bilges, and any other systems or receptacles that could contain water prior to traveling on a public roadway. Those requirements now apply to Elm Fork of the Trinity River impoundments, most significantly Lake Ray Roberts.
Normally new regulations require a minimum 30-day notice before becoming effective, but TPWD considers the recently discovered presence of zebra mussels in Ray Roberts and the Elm Fork an “emergency.” The executive order states:
…the Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department finds that zebra mussels present an immediate danger to species of wildlife regulated by the department (specifically, all indigenous aquatic species whose food supply and/or habitat quality could be altered by zebra mussels, which includes game and nongame fish, nongame aquatic wildlife such as turtles, and mussels). The need to prevent the spread of zebra mussels from Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Lewisville to additional impoundments and drainages creates an imperative necessity to engage in emergency rulemaking. The Executive Director also finds that due to the potential for the rapid spread of zebra mussels, it is necessary to adopt the rules with fewer than 30 days notice. As a result, the emergency rules will take effect immediately. [emphasis added]
The entire order can be viewed here.
The regulation is intended to prevent further spread of zebra mussel larvae, or veligers, which are so tiny they cannot be seen without a microscope. Veligers can survive for days in water trapped in a boat, livewell, bait bucket, or other container.
“The regulation does allow persons to travel from one boat ramp to another on the same water body without draining water,” said Ken Kurzawski, regulations and information director for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Inland Fisheries Division.