Denver, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s boat inspectors, in cooperation with other state-certified partners, checked more than 420,000 boats for aquatic nuisance species (ANS) in 2011. Quagga or zebra mussels were found on eight boats, which were decontaminated by the inspectors prior to entering Colorado waters.

None of the eight infested boats had come from Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs. The state’s ANS program emphasizes educating Colorado boat owners about checking and cleaning their vessels before entering the state’s waters.

“Colorado boaters should be commended for their diligence in cleaning, draining and drying their boats in between each and every use,” said Gene Seagle, ANS Coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Every inspection contact with a boater includes education about ANS and the threat they pose to lakes, reservoirs, public water systems and boating in the state, he said.

The boat inspections occurred at 112 sites statewide, including 54 Colorado Parks and Wildlife stations. The inspectors also decontaminated over 6,000 other boats because of suspected ANS or standing water in the boat, which can carry the microscopic young mussels and other invasive species.

“The education component is our most effective strategy because boat owners learn to inspect, drain and dry their vessels to ensure that they are not introducing harmful ANS, like zebra or quagga mussels, into Colorado waters,” said Elizabeth Brown, Invasive Species Coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The number of vessels with invasive mussels that have been intercepted has gone down each year indicating that the state’s boat owners inspect and clean their vessels before entering the state’s waters.”

In 2009, 19 infested boats were stopped and in 2010, there were 14 boats that were intercepted – compared to only eight in 2011, said Brown.

During the 2011 inspections, quagga mussels were found on three boats before they entered Horsetooth Reservoir in Larimer County. The other five infested boats were intercepted at Crawford State Park, Jackson Lake State Park, John Martin State Park, Taylor Park Reservoir and the inspection station at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Offices at 6060 Broadway in Denver. Brown said the vessels came from the Colorado River near the Arizona-California border, Lake Mead, Michigan, Wisconsin and Vermont. The state of origin for two of the infested boats couldn’t be determined.

Since 2009, Colorado has required boat owners to undergo boat inspections to identify vessels carrying invasive mussels, plants and other pests from other waterways. In addition, all boats that have been launched in other states must pass a state-certified inspection for ANS prior to launching on any Colorado lake, reservoir or river.

Seagle and Brown said the state’s boat inspections and ANS education program is made possible through funding and other help from the Colorado Legislature and numerous partners, including Denver Water, Pueblo Board of Water Works, Colorado Springs Utilities, Aurora Water, Ruedi Water and Power, Larimer County, City of Lakewood, City of Boulder, City of Westminster, City of Arvada, City of Aurora, City of Windsor, Twin Lakes Canal Company, City of Longmont, Colorado River Conservancy District, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, 13 marinas, six private clubs and three private lakes and 24 private inspection sites at marine dealers or service centers.

“The Colorado Parks and Wildlife boat inspection and education program are the best methods available to keep the state’s lakes, reservoirs and other waterways open and available for boating and other recreation,” said Brown. “Those programs would not be possible without our funding partners and the support of the boating public.”

Boaters are encouraged to have vessels inspected prior to storing boats for the winter. Boaters who successfully complete a fall inspection should request a green seal, which will expedite launching and inspections next spring. Inspections are available at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 6060 Broadway, Denver, year-round. There are also other year-round inspection services are available at private industry locations, such as marine dealers.

For more information about the state’s boat inspection program, please see:

http://www.parks.state.co.us/Boating/NewBoatInspection/Pages/BoatInspection.aspx

or

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Pages/MandatoryBoatInspections.aspx.

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