Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk for national park resources and values. In the United States there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species from other continents and over 450 non-natives within North America that have been moved outside their native habitats!
Aquatic invasive species pose threats to parks, ecosystems, and visitors by:
- Outcompeting native species
- Threatening the safety of park employees and visitors
- Changing and degrading the experience of park visitors
- Requiring intensified maintenance and monitoring
- Altering natural ecological processes
Explore more information on removal and stories from parks below.
Removal and PreventionMost often, removal of aquatic invasive species is difficult and expensive to do. For example, once a population of zebra quagga mussels is establised, eradication is impossible.
Prevention is the best way to stop aquaitc invasive species. This means that you can help the National Park Service by fishing and recreating responsibly. Make sure to clean, drain, and dry your boat and fishing gear. Although using live bait is sometimes necessary (and legal), dispose of unwanted live bait into trash cans and NEVER into waterways. Learn more tips on What You Can Do to prevent invasive species and watch the video below to learn more about clean, drain, dry.
These species can be plants, animals, or microbes and are usually spread by human activity. A common way for invasive species to be spread is on boats and other watercraft.
Recently, an invasive mussel was found in the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park. This particularly damaging invasive species is called the quagga mussel.
Adult mussels are about the size of your thumb nail, and immature mussels are microscopic.
Once introduced, the quagga mussel carpets underwater rock surfaces quickly.
These mussels disrupt food webs, clog water intakes and their sharp shells become a recreational hazard.
If we don’t clean boats and gear that have been in waters containing this mussel, we will unfortunately spread this invasive species throughout the Colorado River.
Everyone with a boat can help by taking three easy steps: Clean, Drain and Dry.
These steps should be part of every river trip.
Clean means to go around the boat and remove any visible mud or plants and also to take a bucket or hose and rinse the hull and interior of any standing water or debris.
Drain means to allow all water to drain out of the boat and any equipment.
Dry means that the boat and all equipment should be completely dry before launching on your next trip.
Whether you have a dory, raft or kayak – you can move water and invasive species with your boat and gear.
Every single boat that arrives at Grand Canyon to float should arrive clean.
At the end of your trip you should be sure to clean, drain and dry your boat and all gear before heading out on a new waterway.
Grand Canyon National Park takes a number of precautions to ensure that river trips are safe, fun and protect the uniqueness of Grand Canyon. But we all need to help to protect this precious river. Take the Clean Drain Dry steps before and after every boating trip!
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Recently, an invasive mussel was found in the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park. This particularly damaging invasive species is called the quagga mussel. If we don’t clean boats and gear that have been in waters containing this mussel, we will unfortunately spread this invasive species throughout the Colorado River. Everyone with a boat can help by taking three easy steps: Clean, Drain and Dry.
Last updated: April 12, 2021