New Rules in Effect to Reduce the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

If you transport a watercraft on any public highway in Nevada, you are now required to have your drain plugs, drain valves and any other removable device used to control the draining of water removed and open while transporting the vessel.

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners approved the changes in an effort to lessen the transport and introduction of aquatic invasive species from one waterbody to another.  

“The intent of the new rule is to reduce the spread and transport of aquatic invasive species that can be found in waterbodies,” said Karen Vargas, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW).  “While stopping the spread of quagga mussels from the Colorado River system to other waters in Nevada is at the top of our list, there are many of Nevada’s water that can contain invasive plant fragments, seeds and other organisms that could create havoc to our fisheries, invertebrates, wildlife and drinking water if introduced.”

Vargas explains that when accidentally released, these invasive species can dramatically change the ecological conditions of lakes and rivers and cause severe economic impacts.  

The larvae of quagga mussels and other invasive species are often invisible to the naked eye but they can easily survive in the water intake systems of watercraft, or other areas that retain water like bilges and bait tanks.  Through the process of draining all water from the watercraft when departing a body of water and leaving the drain plugs and other valves removed, boaters will greatly reduce the potential spreading any harmful aquatic invasive species.  

NDOW wants to remind aquatic recreationalists to always CLEAN, DRAIN & DRY your equipment and watercraft before leaving a waterbody.   It’s a violation of state law to transport or introduce aquatic invasive species.  

  • CLEAN:  Remove all mud, plants and animals from every part of your gear or boat.
  • DRAIN:  Remove all water from your watercraft, including its live-wells before you leave the recreation area.  All watercraft drain plug and values must be left removed during transport.
  • DRY:  Allow your watercraft, gear and equipment to completely dry before reuse.  The dry period for a watercraft in Nevada can range from 3-5 days in mid-summer or 3-4 weeks in the winter.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at