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Colorado State Parks Board Approves New Inspection Rules: For Aquatic Nuisance Specis
2/23/2009
Credit:
Colorado State Parks Press Release http://www.parks.state.co.us Rob Billerbeck (303) 866-3203 ext. 4341, rob.billerbeck@state.co.us Deb Frazier (303) 866-3203 ext. 4342, deb.frazier@state.co.us
DENVER - New regulations for boat inspections and decontamination, approved by the Colorado State Parks Board, will go into effect April 1 to slow the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS), including zebra
and quagga mussels, in the state's reservoirs and waterways, experts said Monday.

The regulations, written in collaboration with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW), water providers, local, state and federal agencies and the boating community, created standards for boat inspections and, if ANS are discovered on a vessel, mandatory decontamination procedures.

"This type of program has proven effective in other states in slowing the spread of ANS," said Rob Billerbeck, manager of biological programs for Colorado State Parks. "Boats, primarily larger vessels such as houseboats and cabin cruisers, etc., and jet skis, are the largest single risk factor for spreading ANS and these regulations set the standards that will mitigate most of that risk."

The Colorado State Parks Board voted unanimously Friday to approve the regulations.

A joint monitoring program by state parks and CDOW detected a zebra mussel infestation at Lake Pueblo State Park in January 2008. During 2008, zebra and quagga mussels were detected at six other reservoirs in the state managed by other agencies.

Zebra and quagga mussels were first discovered in the Great Lakes in the 1980's and spread rapidly across the eastern United States. The mussel infestations cause major impacts, estimated at several billion dollars, to hydroelectric power plants and water distribution systems. There's been no method found for stopping the
spread of mussels, while protecting water quality and fisheries.

To curb the spread in Colorado, state parks set up inspection and decontamination stations at 24 state parks last year, checked 114,000 boats, decontaminated 79 vessels and found adult mussels attached to two out-of-state watercraft. Billerbeck said 25 state parks will have inspection and decontamination stations in place by Memorial Day.

The new joint regulations set rigorous training standards to certify inspectors for reservoirs managed by local, state and federal agencies, water providers, marinas, boat dealers and for private entrepreneurs. The CDOW also plans to offer training to certify inspectors that will provide inspections across the state.

"The intent is to have as many organizations as possible adopt this same standard and have uniform procedures throughout the state," said Greg Gerlich, aquatic section manager for CDOW.

Under the new regulations, all boats that come from out-of-state or go out-of-state and return to Colorado will be required to obtain a certified inspection prior to launching in any Colorado lake, reservoir or waterway. Watercraft inspection and decontamination services will be provided, starting April 1, at a variety of locations other than state parks, including DOW offices, infested waters and many other reservoirs.

"There are also many marinas, boat dealers and private entrepreneurs who are interested in the certification program and providing vessel inspection services, so that boaters will have a variety of options for inspections," said Elizabeth Brown, invasive specials coordinator for CDOW. "With these regulations, we will be way ahead of the rest of the country of stemming the tide of ANS spread."

At Lake Pueblo, all boaters will be required to submit to inspections prior to exiting the reservoir to prevent the spread of zebra mussels to other reservoirs and waterways. The regulations also require boaters leaving any other infested waters in Colorado to be inspected prior to launching into another reservoir or waterway.

The new regulations limit the mandatory inspections to trailered watercraft, because they represent the highest potential for transporting ANS. Kayaks, rafts and canoes aren't considered high risk watercraft for transporting ANS, Billerbeck said.

However, the regulations require decontamination of vessels where ANS are found and allow qualified peace officers to impound contaminated vessels if the boat owner refuses to allow decontamination,
which involves cleaning the watercraft with hot, pressurized water.

Throughout 2009, Colorado State Parks is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a leader in protecting the state's best landscapes, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation, educating visitors about nature and partnering with communities.

Billerbeck, Brown and Gerlich said that all boaters should follow the following steps before leaving any body of water:

* DRAIN the water from the boat, live well and the lower unit of the engine
* CLEAN the hull of the boat.
* DRY the boat, fishing gear, and equipment.
* INSPECT all exposed surfaces.
* REMOVE all plant and animal material.

Additional information can be found at www.parks.state.co.us
<http://www.parks.state.co.us/> , www.100thmeridian.org
<http://www.100thmeridian.org/> and www.protectyourwaters.com
<http://www.protectyourwaters.com/> .