Mussel concerns lead to mandatory boat inspections, closed boat ramps this summer
May 8, 2009
Boat inspections and changes in boat-ramp accesses are part of new Colorado Division of Wildlife policies to control the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels throughout Colorado.
For the “Great Lakes” region of Grand County, the Hilltop boat ramp near the canal that connects Shadow Mountain Reservoir to Grand Lake will be closed to all trailered watercraft for the entire 2009 season.
And at Willow Creek reservoir, where low-wake boating used to be accepted, motorized boats and any boats that are trailered will not be allowed. Only hand-launched non-motorized crafts will be allowed on Willow Creek.
Lake Granby, Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Willow Creek Reservoir are all lakes where mussel larvae have been detected; thus mandatory boat inspections will be required upon leaving these lakes. Boats being launched that do not bear evidence of a certified boat inspection elsewhere will also be inspected.
At public boat ramps ” Sunset Point, Stillwater and Arapaho Bay on Lake Granby; Grand Lake public boat ramp near Grand Lake’s east inlet; and the Green Ridge boat ramp on Shadow Mountain Reservoir ” DOW personnel will be conducting boat inspections of boats from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, starting May 15.
Ramps will be open to nighttime use. However, boaters are required to follow the “Clean, Drain and Dry protocol” when inspectors are not present and must have vessels inspected at a state-certified site before launching in any other Colorado lake.
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“Boaters cannot launch anywhere without getting an inspection first,” said DOW spokesperson Jerry Neal.
Colorado law prohibits the possession and transport of any aquatic nuisance species in Colorado.
Inspections are free
Free inspections and decontamination with hot-water/hot-pressure units will be offered at the lake inspection areas as well as at the DOW office at 346 Grand County Road 362 in Hot Sulphur Springs, he said.
Boaters who have successfully passed a state-certified inspection will receive a green seal and receipt.
Boaters must have both the seal and receipt in their possession before they may launch at a new location.
Hand-launched crafts, including kayaks, rafts, canoes and belly boats, are not considered high risk for spreading aquatic nuisance species and may launch without an inspection, according to the DOW.
For Grand County motorboating lakes where mussels have not been detected, at the Williams Fork Reservoir, the west boat ramp will be closed the entire 2009 season, and all ramps will be closed at night. Overnight beaching of watercraft is prohibited.
Wolford Mountain Reservoir, which opened to boat launches on May 1, also has mandatory boat and trailer inspections for mussel contamination from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Lake officials at Wolford will only accept green seals from Dillon Reservoir. A boat decontamination area is located in the back of the Day Use parking area at the reservoir.
Private launch sites
Those with private boat launches in Grand County, all permitted by the U.S. Forest Service, will be required to provide inspections if they plan to continue public boat-launching services.
Private watercraft inspections will be free at the Grand Elk Marina boat launch on Lake Granby, according to manager Mike Dixon. The marina will be working with the DOW or independent contractors to provide decontamination services primarily at the end of the season when most people are removing their boats. Launching fees are expected to remain the same, he said.
At Beacon Landing, staff members are getting certified to perform inspections, but whether inspections will affect launching fees is yet to be determined. Owners of the Highland Marina could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Mussels multiply quickly and can clog water works at dams and foul up boat mechanics.
In recent years, the mussels have spread to the West from the Great Lakes region. In the last year, they have been discovered in four Grand County lakes and in Blue Mesa Reservoir, at the Jumbo State Wildlife area, at Lake Pueblo and at the Tarryall State Wildlife area.
“It’s up to each individual boater to make sure they are following the Clean, Drain and Dry protocol. The success of this program relies strongly on the watercraft owners acting responsibly,” said DOW Fisheries Chief Greg Gerlich.
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.