With the change from winter to spring well under way, many weekend recreation plans include outings on area lakes. Just be aware that zebra mussels are poised to invade and cause a lot of damage to your favorite boating area if you’re not careful.

These non-native mussels have already made their way to Lake Waurika and only need a ride on your boat to make it to other lakes in the area. The problem with Zebra Mussels is that they have the ability to attach themselves to almost anything, boats, piping, whatever, then degrade the structures to the point where they are no longer usable. And don’t think that the problem is only for boaters; once they get into places like Lake Arrowhead Zebra Mussels will directly impact the cost of water for customers in and around Wichita Falls.

At the moment, area lakes like Arrowhead, Kickapoo and Kemp are not infested, but Waurika, Bridgeport, Texoma and some DFW area lakes are. So if you boat in an infested lake, take care not to carry the mussels to any of the non-infested lakes.

To prevent the transportation of Zebra Mussels, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Wardens are enforcing regulations that specifically prohibit possession of Zebra Mussels (both adult and microscopic veligers); moving boats or trailers without draining the water from all containers and systems such as live wells, bilges and motors; and transporting and releasing fish into a public waterbody it was not taken from.

The City of Wichita Falls will be monitoring the situation with two different forms of analysis, one looking for the larvae, and the other detecting the DNA using Polymerase Chain Reaction.

By all means, enjoy the area lakes, but when transporting your boat or watercraft away from any infested lake the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department encourages you to Clean, Drain and Dry your items. Everyone will be much happier.