For Release:
Contact: Stephanie Helms
Washington Invasive Species Council
Contact: Becky Elder
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Contact: Staci Lehman
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

OLYMPIA–The Washington Invasive Species Council and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are asking boaters to “Clean, Drain and Dry” their boats and equipment this boating season to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species and protect Washington’s waterways.

“We need your help to protect Washington waters,” said Stephanie Helms, executive coordinator for the Washington Invasive Species Council. “And the best way for any Washingtonian to help protect our waterways from hitchhiking invasive species is to take simple steps to Clean, Drain and Dry your boat.”

Invasive species, which include aquatic plants and animals, can attach themselves on the surfaces of boats, motors, trailers and other equipment. That includes non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks and inflatable paddleboards, and any equipment that touches the water including boots and waders.

Some aquatic invasive plants, such as Eurasian milfoil, grow quickly and take over habitats by crowding out native species. The plants can grow so densely that they clog boat engines and can make swimming difficult and unpleasant. Eurasian milfoil is present in much of the state but can be prevented from establishing in new waterbodies by following Clean, Drain, Dry, protocols.

Other devastating invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, are not known to be present in Washington but are high priorities for prevention.

“Quagga and zebra mussels will be a multimillion-dollar problem annually if they are introduced to our lakes and rivers,” said Justin Bush, WDFW’s aquatic invasive species policy coordinator. “They would require expensive and ongoing maintenance at water facilities such as dams, irrigation systems and fish ladders, and also could harm the environment including salmon recovery.

It is estimated that the invasive mussels would cost more than $100 million a year just for hydropower and water infrastructure alone.”

This month, WDFW, the lead state agency for prevention and management of aquatic invasive species in Washington, received $3.6 million in additional state and federal funding to increase monitoring, prevention and response readiness for quagga and zebra mussels in the Snake and Columbia Rivers, and other watersheds statewide.

These increased efforts are in response to the September 2023 detection of quagga mussels in the Snake River outside Twin Falls, Idaho. More information about the recent increased funding is in WDFW’s recent blog post.

“There has never been a more important time to clean, drain and dry your boat and equipment,” said Bush. “The health of our waters, fisheries, tourism industry, recreational opportunities and statewide economy depends on it.”

Here are simple actions to Clean, Drain and Dry watercraft and equipment:

More information on the Clean, Drain, Dry campaign and a how-to guide are online.

WDFW inspects boats, kayaks and other watercraft for aquatic invasive species at five watercraft check stations. In 2024, the department inspected more than 58,000 watercraft and intercepted 25 mussel-fouled watercraft that were cleaned and decontaminated. It is illegal to transport aquatic invasive species from one waterbody to another in Washington. Violators could face a year in jail and $5,000 in fines. More information on aquatic invasive species is on the WDFW website or by calling

“Invasive species do not obey rules, respect laws or property lines,” Helms said. “Which is why we all must work together to protect what we love in Washington state; together, we can do this.”

To report aquatic invasive species, call 1-888-WDFW-AIS or email To report other invasive species, use the WA Invasives app.

The Washington Invasive Species Council is part of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. The council’s mission is to provide policy direction, planning and coordination to empower those entities engaged in the prevention, detection and eradication of invasive species. For additional information visit the council’s website.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish, wildlife and recreational and commercial opportunities.

Additional Background Resources