AUSTIN (January 23, 2014) State officials voted Thursday to expand the territory where boaters are required to drain all watercraft before and after entering lakes and streams in an effort to halt the spread of invasive zebra mussels.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved adding 30 counties in North and Central Texas to the requirement.
The expanded territory includes Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Leon, Limestone, McLennan, Navarro and Williamson Counties in Central Texas.
The rule was already in effect for boaters in 17 North Texas counties.
DNA and larvae of the small, non-native species were found earlier this week in a sixth Texas lake.
It is a Class C misdemeanor statewide to possess or transport zebra mussels.
Zebra mussels were first confirmed in Texas in Lake Texoma in 2009.
In September 2013, the parks and wildlife department confirmed the presence of the mussels in Lake Belton and officials said nearby Stillhouse Hollow Lake was also at imminent risk of becoming infested.
The pesky and invasive creatures, which can clog pipes and damage boat motors, have spread quickly they were first discovered in Texas.