Yellowstone National Park officials are weighing whether to ban felt-soled wading boots in all park waters.
According to East Idaho News, the ban is aimed at curbing the influx of aquatic invasive species into Yellowstone’s various rivers, streams, and lakes. Although lake trout is the big baddie among conservationists and fishery officials, there are a host of other species managers don’t want to see—such as New Zealand mud snails and parasites like Myxobolus cerebralis or the one that felled thousands of whitefish in the Yellowstone River around LIvginston, MT.
Felt-soled wading boots are believed to be more susceptible to picking up bugs and plant material, which is why the park is considering the ban. From East Idaho News:
“We wouldn’t want to ban a boot style if there wasn’t an alternative, but now there are alternatives,” says Todd Koel, Yellowstone National Park native fish conservation program leader. “That’s why, as a part of bolstering our overall aquatic invasive species prevention in Yellowstone, the park will probably be going to a ban on felt soles in 2018.”
The alternative is rubber. In theory, rubber-soled wading boots transfer less invasive from one watershed to the next because they don’t grip as well as felt. But the reality is, if a bug sticks to soles, it can also hitch a ride on boots and waders.
“Take responsibility and clean your gear,” says Josh Prestin, Redington brand manager. “If you care for your stuff in an appropriate way, you’re not going to have a negative impact on the places you fish.”
Felt grips while rubber slips so to keep fisherman from falling, the industry added cleats to rubber soles. “It took me a while to warm up to it, but now I like rubber better than felt,” says Jimmy Gabettas, Jimmy’s All Seasons Angler owner. “Especially Vibram rubber soles. When you step out of water onto mud or grass, it’s better than felt and snow doesn’t build up on rubber like felt.”
Currently, six states have felt bans: Alaska, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and South Dakota. Idaho attempted a felt ban in 2011 while Vermont recently rescinded theirs in 2016.
Yellowstone’s fishing season is slated to start May 27, 2017.