New drop-box registration procedure will allow boaters to come and go when Aquatic Nuisance Species inspection-decontamination stations are closed
PUEBLO, Colo. – Boaters who use Lake Pueblo State Park will soon find new ramp hours and launch protocols to guard against the invasion of non-native zebra and quagga mussels, known as Aquatic Nuisance Species, or ANS.
The new hours and protocols are good news for area boaters who requested more freedom to come and go at Lake Pueblo when ANS inspection and decontamination stations were closed. Under new drop-box procedures taking effect Oct. 15, Lake Pueblo’s boat ramp gates will remain open 24 hours a day for the first time since 2008.
The new boating freedom, however, carries important responsibility for boat owners.
“It is imperative that boaters abide by the strict inspection procedures,” said Brian Kerrigan, Lake Pueblo park operations manager. “The drop-box system is an honor system. If the drop-box system is to work, boaters must take it seriously. Or the gates will be locked once again.”
The drop-box procedure was made possible after CPW removed Lake Pueblo from the list of waters testing positive for invasive mussels earlier this year. The delisting came after five consecutive years of negative testing for the larval and adult life stages at Lake Pueblo. CPW biologists credit the aggressive boat inspection and decontamination program for stopping the spread of the invasive mussels.
Statewide, CPW has intercepted 142 watercraft infested with adult mussels since the program began in 2008. Inspectors have caught more than three dozen infected boats coming into Lake Pueblo from out of state – more than any other lake in Colorado.
During the busy summer boating season, CPW staffs ANS inspection stations 18 hours a day. But it can’t justify the expense during slower fall and winter months. In an effort to improve customer service, the drop-box procedure will begin when ANS inspection stations switch to new hours on Oct. 15, operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.
Hours change again Nov. 15, operating from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Feb. 28.
From March 1-April 14, the ANS inspection stations go back to operating hours of 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Finally, on April 15, summer hours resume and the stations will be open 5 a.m.-11 p.m.
When ANS inspection stations are open, all trailered or motorized watercraft must be inspected, by on-site staff, prior to launching and after exiting the lake.
For boaters launching or leaving the lake during off hours, a “pre-inspection” requirement will be enforced.
When boats are inspected upon leaving the lake, each boat owner receives a green seal and a blue receipt verifying the boat and trailer are free of invasive species.
The pre-inspection program requires boaters entering the lake during off-hours to log in at the boat ramp, remove their Colorado green seal and deposit it, and their receipt, in a drop box at the ramp. This allows rangers to compare the log and seals to trailers parked at the ramp.
Boaters who fail to follow the pre-inspection protocol can be intercepted on the water or as they come off the lake. They face a citation for the violation and a fine.
To learn more about invasive species, see the CPW web page: http://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/ISP-ANS.aspx