Opinion: Boat restriction between Pyramid, Castaic and Piru doesn’t make sense

Get a map of the Interstate 5 corridor from Highway 126 to Highway 138. The map will cover an area south of the Kern County line where Ventura and Los Angeles counties meet. Interstate 5 will roughly cut through the middle in a north-south fashion. In the area of interest, adjacent to I-5, there are three reservoirs – Castaic Lake on the east side of I-5, Piru Lake roughly due west of Castaic on the west side of the interstate, and Pyramid Lake just north of the other two and adjacent to the freeway on the west. All three would nearly fit in a 15-square mile block.

I explain the above in some detail in case you don’t have a map handy and want to visualize this. The terrain is higher to the north. Pyramid, the upper lake, is above Castaic and in the same drainage on the west fork of the California aqueduct, part of the state water project. Water flows from Pyramid downstream into Castaic unimpeded, an important point to remember. Piru is in the next watershed to the west, not connected to the Pyramid-Castaic system.

Do you have this picture? Good, now to part two: In December, it was announced that quagga mussels were discovered in the Pyramid to Castaic portion of the state water project. Immediately, a set of boating restrictions went into place that mandated that boats for these infected waters could not be moved to other waters in the state without being de-infested of quaggas.

One of those restrictions mandated that boats from Pyramid Lake could not be taken a few miles down the road to Castaic Lake without being de-infested, which meant dry dock for a considerable length of time. Prior to the discovery of quagga mussels, boats could go back and forth between those two lakes without any problems.

But now, a boater cannot go from Pyramid to Castaic on successive days or even successive weekends, if the “clean, drained, and dry” rules that prevent the spread of the mussels are followed.

So, state and local agencies are preventing the spread of quagga mussels by stopping boats from in Pyramid from going to Castaic without the cleaning?

Is your head about to explode?

Both lakes are infected! Castaic is downstream from Pyramid! Millions of gallons of water a month run unfiltered, untouched from Pyramid to Castaic. All fish found in Pyramid are also found in Castaic because they are in the water. Quaggas are too. But the geniuses in government can create a rule lacking in common sense. The quaggas from uncleaned boats from Pyramid don’t matter if there are already quaggas in Castaic.

Yet the government regulators had a public meeting this past week where they were trying to explain and rationalize the decision, and then wondered why normal, thinking people were upset by the end of the meeting. This rule makes no sense.

Okay, now part three: Remember nearby Piru Lake? It is on a different watershed than Pyramid and Castaic and you’d think that boaters and boat anglers should be mandated not to go from the other two nearby reservoirs until their boats meet the quagga-free requirements. Right?

Well, no. Piru Lake has been certified to have quagga mussels since 2013.

And yet you can’t take boats between the three without extreme measures for some convoluted, nonsensical, non-scientific, bureaucratic bull.

Well, let’s keep it clean.

The rule impacts recreational boating users (and will a lot more as it warms up), anglers who used to fish all three waters without restriction (before 2013), and fishing guides and fishing tournaments. Local businesses are already feeling the pinch because anglers have to choose to fish just one or the other of the lakes. Sadly a lot of anglers and boaters will just give up and sell their boats if this rule isn’t changed.

This is just insane, especially where there is a simple fix: The state needs to mandate a statewide rule requiring boats used on quagga-infested waters get a tag to allow them to go on ALL other quagga-infested waters without costly dry-dock or cleaning and inspections. Once quagga mussels are established, a few more off an anchor rope or flushed out by a bilge pump aren’t going to matter at all on infected waters. (I challenge anyone to show us the science proving otherwise.)

The state/local agencies could start the ball rolling by starting this program on Piru, Pyramid and Castaic since they are all so close together and would get a lot of boater cross-use.

Instead of throwing up roadblocks, the agencies could tear a few down. These agencies are supposed to be working for the public. Things like this prove how badly they are failing.

Visit the Department of Fish and Wildlife quagga and zebra mussel page on its website, at this direct link, for more information. You will be amazed at how much money and effort is being thrown at this problem. Most of all, the human impacts of all the rules and regulations are ignored.

(Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation photo)

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