Invasive zebra and quagga mussels deemed to be huge threat to Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs; inspections mandatory at 200 locations around the state
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado residents have stepped up in a big way to help prevent the spread of invasive mussels by inspecting and cleaning their boats before launching them, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife is asking for continued compliance and cooperation at the start of this year’s boating season.
The zebra and quagga mussels can hitch rides on boats and then take hold in new waters, where they quickly proliferate and threaten both the aquatic ecosystem and any water works and hydropower facilities associated with the reservoirs.
Inspections are mandatory at more than 200 locations statewide, including Colorado State Wildlife Areas, Colorado State Parks and other federal and local lakes and reservoirs.
Regulations approved last year by the Colorado Parks Board require all out-of-state boats to pass a state-certified inspection prior to launching anywhere in Colorado. Colorado residents who trailer boats out of the state must also complete an inspection before entering any in-state waters.
So far, Lake Pueblo, Lake Granby, Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain, Willow Creek, Jumbo (Logan County) and Tarryall reservoirs have all tested positive for the mussels and testing continues at Blue Mesa reservoir, where the Colorado Division of Wildlife suspects the mussels.
Boats launched on any Colorado lake or reservoir where mussels have been detected must pass an inspection prior to launching at a new location. The National Park Service and the DOW have jointly implemented containment measures and mandatory inspections at Blue Mesa boat ramps.
Mandatory inspections are limited to trailered watercraft. Hand-launched crafts, including kayaks, rafts, canoes, sailboards and belly boats, pose a low risk for spreading the mussels and may launch without an inspection. Still, owners of hand-launched craft are strongly encouraged to adhere to the “clean, drain and dry” practices to minimize contamination risks.
Beginning in May, select DOW offices, state, federal, county and municipal reservoirs and a number of private marinas and boat dealers will offer state-certified inspections and decontamination services. All Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks inspections are free; however, park entrance fees apply on all state parks. Private inspections are fee-based, and prices may vary among vendors.
Boaters are encouraged to obtain a “green” seal and corresponding receipt before leaving inspection sites. Green seals validate prior inspections, allowing boaters to launch more quickly at reservoirs. Boaters who have completed inspections at other locations are required to stop at reservoir inspection sites to have seals and receipts verified, and to ensure vessels are clean and dry.
Last summer, inspectors checked more than 400,000 boats, conducted 3,300 decontaminations and intercepted 19 boats encrusted with invasive mussels entering Colorado from other states. This year, ANS inspectors have already intercepted seven contaminated, non-resident vessels, causing great concern for officials.
“Boats trailered here from other states pose the greatest threat to our lakes and reservoirs,” said Elizabeth Brown, invasive species coordinator for the Division of Wildlife. “Any one of these encrusted vessels could have introduced mussels to a new location in Colorado. This is why it’s imperative that inspections continue and the boating community continues to support the watercraft inspection program.”
State law enforcement officers are also on the lookout for boats carrying mussels or other invasive species across state lines.
“Contaminated boats unlawfully entering Colorado waters is something we take very seriously,” said Jay Sarason, DOW chief of law enforcement. Willful violations can result in vessel impoundment along with tickets issued to the operator.”
Boaters are reminded to observe the following steps in order to prevent transporting mussels or other ANS:
CLEAN: Remove all plants, animals, mud; and thoroughly wash everything, including all crevices and other hidden areas.
DRAIN: Eliminate all water before leaving the area, including live wells, bait containers, ballast and engine cooling water.
DRY: Allow sufficient time for your boat and other equipment to completely dry before launching in other waters.
For more information about the “Clean, Drain and Dry” protocol, click here:
For more information about zebra and quagga mussels and how to prevent their spread, please visit the following links:
Statewide Watercraft Inspection Sites: DOW Offices:
Denver DOW Office
6060 Broadway, Denver, Co
Ph: (303) 291-7295
Beginning May 1, 2010, the inspection station is open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Monday through Friday (no appointment is necessary). Inspections are not available on Saturday and Sunday.
Grand Junction DOW Office
711 Independent Ave.
Ph: (970) 255-6100
Watercraft inspection and decontamination services are available from 9 a.m.-5:p.m., Monday through Friday, starting May 11. The inspection station will be open through October 29. Inspections are not available on Saturday and Sunday.
Hot Sulphur Springs DOW Office
346 Grand County Rd. 362
Ph: (970) 725-6200
Watercraft inspection and decontamination services are currently available (by appointment only) from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Inspections are not available on Saturday and Sunday.
State, Federal and Local Lakes or Reservoirs and Private Inspection Sites:
To view a comprehensive list of statewide 2010 watercraft inspection and decontamination sites, please visit the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Web site at: