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New Lake Whatcom boat launching requirements

Boat propeller

The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County require aquatic invasive species inspections and purchase of an Annual Permit or Day Pass for all watercraft that are 16 feet long or more and/or operated by a motor of 10 horsepower or more prior to launching in Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish.

Inspection services are available at Bloedel Donovan Park from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week.  Inspection services are also available by appointment for watercraft that are unable to be trailered to Bloedel Donovan Park.

What boats are affected?

Watercraft that require registration by the State of Washington (16 feet long or more and/or operated by a motor of 10 horsepower or more), as well as any watercraft registered in another state or country, require inspections and an Annual Permit or Day Pass prior to launching or operating on Lake Whatcom or Lake Samish.

Annual Permits can be purchased for $50 and include unlimited inspections. Day Passes can be purchased for $20 and include one inspection (valid for 3 days only). A 2013 permit is not required for watercraft that are under 16 feet with less than a 10 horsepower motor, canoes, kayaks, rowboats, or sailboats under 16 feet, however all boats may be inspected at the launch.

Inspectors will be checking watercraft to be sure they are cleaned, drained, dried and are not at risk for transporting aquatic invasive species prior to launching in the lake. Boats that are contaminated or infested will require decontamination, and an additional decontamination fee, prior to launch.

Inspection Locations

Watercraft needing inspections for Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish can purchase their permits and get inspected at the Bloedel Donovan boat launch, where inspectors are available seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Inspection services are also available by appointment at other sites around Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish for watercraft that are unable to be trailered to Bloedel Donovan. To schedule an appointment for an on-site inspection, call the Boat Inspection Hotline at 360-778-7975.

Annual permits and day passes can be purchased with a credit card at Bloedel Donovan. Annual permits are also available for purchase online at www.cob.org/pay. Purchasers will need to print their receipt for a subsequent inspection and to receive the permit stickers. Additional payment methods are available at the City of Bellingham - Finance Department located at 210 Lottie Street, Bellingham, WA 98225.

Species of concern

Aquatic invasive species of particular concern are zebra and quagga mussels. If these mussels were introduced to Lake Whatcom, they could result in serious impacts by attaching to and damaging public and private infrastructure, making shoreline areas hazardous and uninviting for recreational users and property owners, causing long-term taste and odor problems in our drinking water, and displacing and outcompeting native aquatic species.

Program updates will be made available on both the City of Bellingham and Lake Whatcom Management Program websites. The 2012 AIS Annual Report provides additional recommendations for AIS prevention and lake protection.

More information:

Aquatic Invasive Species Program

Updated:  May 23, 2013

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