AUSTIN (KXAN) — For many, Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer and kicks off boating season in Texas.
On Saturday, Lake Austin was packed with plenty of people out on the water.
Forrest Wilson took his family out on their boat.
“It’s great to be back on the water, it’s great to have good weather,” Wilson said. “This is what we wait for all year in Austin.”
Pat Besa regularly rides his boat in local waters.
“Anybody that’s got a boat is going to be either on Lake Austin or Lake Travis today,” Besa said.
Despite the fun in the sun, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is pleading people to do their part to fight back against aquatic invasive species.
This includes giant salvinia, a free-floating aquatic fern that can double its coverage area in a week. The invasive plant can produce thick surface mats that make water recreation nearly impossible.
People should also be on the lookout for zebra mussels. The non-native shellfish that attaches to hard surfaces can damage boats, alter lake ecosystems and cause harm to native species.
“If Texas Parks and Wildlife lets us know that it exists and it’s a problem, I definitely don’t want to be part of spreading it,” Besa said.
On top of the harm these aquatic invasive species cause on the water, they also can cause legal trouble. Transporting these unwanted guests is illegal and punishable with a fine of up to $500 per violation.
“I’m fully aware of the fine, that’s why it’s important to pull your plug as soon as its out of the water,” Wilson said. “Make sure that all the water in your boat stays right on the ramp.”
According to TPWD, the simple solution is properly cleaning, draining and drying boats.
Lizzie Turk is quite accustomed to helping clean her boyfriend’s boat.
“Otherwise, you’re going to end up ruining things for everyone and the environment,” she said. “Then it’s not going to be as enjoyable to come out on.”
Barton Springs is also at risk of a zebra mussel infestation, with warning signs posted outside the pool.