There is a bad bill making its way through the Vermont Senate and House Committees on Natural Resources and Fish & Wildlife. The bill is S.75 and has to do with slowing the spread of aquatic invasive species. If this goes the wrong way it will affect you every time you launch your boat in Vermont.
As anglers and conservationists, we are all supportive of efforts designed to protect the health of our lakes and ponds. While the goal of S.75 is admirable, the mechanisms are heavy-handed, unreasonable, will have a huge impact on fishing and boating … and won’t address the spread of invasive species in the long run.
S.75 includes language that will force boaters and anglers to submit to a mandatory boat inspection at state boat ramps where inspectors are present. Inspectors will have the authority to search your boat and trailer inside and out, looking for invasive species and things like wet livewells and water in your bilge. They can also inspect and search your tow vehicle. If they deem your boat to be a risk, they will have the authority to prohibit you from launching, and can send you to an on-site or off-site decontamination facility where you must clean your boat and trailer.
S.75 raises many red flags and concerns for boaters and anglers. These boat inspectors are often summer students or retired folks hired by Lake Associations and will be boarding and searching your boat and vehicle without your permission, or deny you access to public waters. Additionally, this will cause huge congestion issues at the ramps as each boat being launched and retrieved is subject to lengthy inspections, and possible decontamination by people with high-pressure washers who may not care what damage they do to your equipment.
Slowing the spread of invasive species is best done through education. Armed with the proper knowledge, boaters and anglers will implement Clean, Drain, and Dry practices to ensure they are not contributing to the problem. Education is the key – mandatory inspection is not.
We are urging you to contact Governor Scott and your State Representatives and let them know that they should not allow this bill to become law. Do this right away. S.75 is moving quickly and could be voted on this week.
The Governor’s Hotline is 802-828-3333. Flood his telephone lines.
To find your State Representative, go to http://legislature.vermont.gov//people/all/2018.
Speak out NOW to prevent this bill from impacting your ability to enjoy fishing and boating in Vermont!