With spring weather arriving early this year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are ramping up boat inspections at more than 85 sites around the state, the agency reported in a news release.
The aquatic nuisance species boat inspections are mandatory at state parks open for boating and at most other boatable waters in the state, according to the release.
“The good news is that we haven’t seen any new mussel discoveries since 2008,” stated Gene Seagle, an aquatic nuisance species coordinator with Parks and Wildlife, in the release. “But we can’t let our guard down and assume that problems don’t exist.”
Colorado inspectors have already decontaminated two mussel-infested out-of-state boats this year, according to the release.
During the first weekend in April inspectors at Chatfield State Park stopped a mussel-infested boat purchased in Indiana and brought to Colorado. On April 10 inspectors at Lake Pueblo State Park inspected a boat from Wisconsin carrying mussels from the Great Lakes region.
Both boats were decontaminated before being allowed to enter Colorado waters, according to the release.
More than 200 inspectors have already received training this spring with more training sessions planned before Memorial Day weekend, the official start of the boating season in the state, according to the release. Inspectors are watching for all aquatic invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnails and Eurasian watermilfoil.
The inspectors also work to prevent the movement of water from lakes or reservoirs to other bodies of water as microscopic young mussels, not visible to the human eye, could be accidentally moved in live wells, anchor basins or other places on a vessel where water can accumulate, the release states.
The aquatic nuisance species could do substantial damage to ecosystems, boats and water delivery systems in Colorado if they become established. These invaders typically can’t be controlled once they get introduced and have cost other states in the nation billions of dollars to continue operating water distribution systems to homes, farms and businesses, according to the release.
“Each year we get better at conducting the inspections and boaters become more understanding of the need for the program,” stated Elizabeth Brown, invasive species coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in the release. “Inspectors are better trained than ever before and most boaters are showing up with their boats clean, drained and dried which gets them on the water faster.”
Colorado’s aquatic nuisance species program requires that all boats which have been in waters outside of Colorado must be inspected and receive a green inspection seal prior to launching in any water of the state, according to the release.
Boaters who live in, or are traveling through, Denver, Grand Junction or Hot Sulphur Springs have access to advance inspections and decontamination facilities, the release states. These are located at the Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region office at 6060 Broadway in Denver, at the CPW Northwest Region office located at 711 Independent Ave. in Grand Junction and at the Hot Sulphur Springs Area Office, located at 346 Grand County Road 362.
Inspection stations are also available at boating waters around the state. A complete list of inspection sites and hours of operation can be found at http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Pages/MandatoryBoatInspections.aspx.