Sen. Bennet secures federal funding, resources against aquatic nuisance species |

Sen. Bennet secures federal funding, resources against aquatic nuisance species

Deepan Dutta / Summit Daily

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet secured a provision to protect Colorado’s watersheds from invasive species, like quagga and zebra mussels, in the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which passed the Senate today 99-1.

“Aquatic invasive species pose a serious threat to headwater states like Colorado-damaging water infrastructure and harming ecosystems,” Bennet said. “Colorado is one of the few states without an invasive mussel infestation. Additional inspection stations will bolster our state’s efforts to prevent an infestation and protect local economies.”

The provision directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish, operate, and maintain new or existing watercraft inspection stations to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in the Upper Colorado River Basin, South Platte River Basin, and Arkansas River Basin. The provision also authorizes the Army Corps to assist states with rapid response efforts in the case of an infestation of quagga or zebra mussels.

Bennet’s push for the provision was sparked by the August 2017 detection of quagga mussel larvae in the Green Mountain Reservoir in Heeney. A quagga infestation is near impossible to get rid of, and mussels have already overrun Lake Powell and other federal water bodies. The economic and environmental damage caused by invasive species like quagga is immeasurable.

“This is a positive step forward to protect our nation’s headwaters against zebra and quagga mussels and other harmful invaders,” said Bob Broschied, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Federal and state partnerships are critical to maintain Colorado’s aggressive invasive species prevention program. We are very grateful to Senator Bennet for his support of Colorado’s Aquatic Nuisance Species program, and for his actions which are helping to facilitate solutions that will benefit our state.”

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