RBAW Monthly Newsletter

- September 2023 -

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Legislative Updates

The San Juan Islands Destination Management Plan – San Juan County

RBAW is tracking recommendations made within the San Juan Islands Destination Management Plan produced by San Juan County. Citing the goal of delivering a plan of action for Island visitation that meets the needs of the community, environment, economy, and visitors, the county has produced this destination management plan. Recommendations in the draft management plan include exploring a Salish Sea Marine Pass (similar to a Discovery Pass), as well as establishing a boating sticker program (as well as car and bicycle sticker programs). RBAW has initial concerns that this will prohibit and restrict boating in the San Juan Islands, and create new fees to boat in the area. RBAW has met with stakeholders including the Northwest Marine Trade Association to explore submitting a joint comment to the Destination Management Plan speaking against new stickers and fee increases. The current public comment period has been extended to October 31. The RBAW Board of Directors will be discussing the implications of these recommendations for recreational boating in the upcoming October 6 Board of Directors meeting. To view the plan, please visit this link: San Juan Island Destination Management Plan.

Watercraft Excise Tax Discussions Ongoing

Discussions continue on the unfair inequities in the depreciation schedule being used by the Department of Revenue (DOR) to assess the over inflated value of older vessels purchased 14-15 or more years ago. RBAW has hired BST Associates to assess data and formulate what a flat percentage depreciation schedule could be for vessels owned 15 years or more, going out to 25-30 years. Once the work is completed, RBAW will propose solutions and meet with the DOR to continue conversations.

A Peek at Several Legislative Priorities for 2024

Derelict Vessels and Derelict Structures

RBAW will continue to support the Derelict Vessel Removal Program and the Derelict Structures Removal Program that it has worked on closely with the Department of Natural Resources. RBAW will continue advocating with DNR for sustainable funding that maximizes incentive funds. Also the same impetus will be given to the Vessel Turn In Program and to bolster the removal of vessels from non-public lands.

Boating Safety and Access

RBAW will continue to promote increased awareness of and education on the importance of boater safety and access. The Association will monitor action in the 2024 legislature to see whether any lawmakers propose an expansion of requirements to wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s) or boating education changes. RBAW will want to be at the table to ensure any such proposals are limited and targeted.

Invasive mussel prevention efforts in Washington 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is the lead state agency for prevention and management of aquatic invasive species including quagga mussels. We stand ready to assist Idaho’s incident management team if assistance is requested. 

The WDFW Fish Program Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Unit conducts widespread monitoring annually each spring through fall. In 2022, WDFW monitored 306 sites at 124 waterbodies. 2022 sampling found no invasive quagga or zebra mussels in Washington’s waters including in the Snake River. Preliminary results from 2023 confirm no presence. In response to the Idaho detection, WDFW is redirecting staff from statewide monitoring to the Snake River for additional monitoring.  

If detected, we have the needed expertise, equipment, and have recently practiced a first-of-its-kind on-the-ground quagga and zebra mussel response exercise. While there is reason for concern for potential spread into our state’s waters, WDFW and Washington are well positioned to take quick action if needed. 

More information is available in the Washington Dreissenid Mussel Rapid Response Plan (2017 version).  

Washington currently has a robust multi-agency effort monitoring for invasive quagga and zebra mussels in our state’s waters, coordinated by WDFW, Washington Invasive Species Council (WISC), and other state and federal agencies, tribes, and partners.  

WDFW operates mandatory watercraft inspection stations in Spokane, Clarkston, Pasco, and Cle Elum under the direction of Capt. Eric Anderson, including a trained detection dog, Fin, and enforcement of AIS permits for watercraft registered outside our state.  

Statewide, in 2022, WDFW inspected 51,877 watercraft and intercepted 19 invasive mussel-fouled watercraft. The Clarkston inspection station is positioned to support protection for Washington’s portion of the Snake River. Already in 2023, 1,265 watercraft have been inspected at this southeast Washington station including 1 vessel fouled with invasive mussels. In response to the Idaho quagga mussel detection, WDFW will be ramping up roving watercraft inspection stations in the area.   

We have also worked with WISC, U.S. Department of the Interior, public utility districts, and other partners to install Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose (CD3) units at boat launches and marinas around the Columbia Basin, as well as disseminated regular communications on these topics. 

We will share additional information as it becomes available. Learn more at: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/invasive/prevention. Please share our blog post widely: https://wdfw.medium.com/invasive-quagga-mussels-detected-in-idaho-monitoring-and-prevention-efforts-ramp-up-in-washington-5913c555dccb.

5 Hot Fall Bites

As summer wanes, many fish species put on the feed bag to fatten up for winter. This season, consider targeting one of these prime suspects.

The leaves are turning, there’s a slight chill in the air, and you have an itch to go fishing? Fall is the perfect time because the fish feel winter coming, too, and they’ll be feeding hard as they try to pack on the pounds before food becomes scarce. No matter where you live in the country, one of these five fall bites offers you a shot at red-hot fishing action.


Due to their widespread availability (they live in all 48 of the contiguous United States) and their willingness to bite, crappie are a popular fall target for countless anglers. They’ll be found sticking close to structure like fallen trees, beaver dams, and bridge pilings, slowly shifting deeper in the water column as the season progresses and temperatures continue to drop. Peak fall feeding occurs in most bodies of water when temperatures are in the 60s. Even after the waters grow cooler, a good bite generally continues until winter roars in.

Casting a minnow suspended under a bobber is one of the easiest ways to fool crappie into biting, although many anglers opt to cast small lures like tube jigs, bladebaits, and soft plastic twister tails. In any case, getting your offering close to the structure they’re holding near is usually the key to catching crappie in big numbers.

Click here to read more from BoatU.S.

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