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New boat ramp restrictions imposed at Pueblo

by: Bill Prater , Colorado 12/28/2018
It looks like boat ramp restrictions will continue to increase across Colorado because of increasing pressure from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. This week Colorado Parks and Wildlife issued a press release announcing that "boat ramp gates will be locked and lake access restricted" whenever inspection stations for Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) are closed.

A similar sounding "locked-gate policy" was implemented at Horsetooth and Carter reservoirs last summer. Previously you could have your boat inspected in advance (typically when you were leaving the lake) and launch after hours. And stay on the lakes after ANS inspection hours. You could enter if you provided proof of pre-inspection at drop-off stations. 

In the case of Pueblo, where there's obviously not much boat traffic right now, the new rules are accompanied by Parks and Wildlife's plans to increase ANS inspection hours, which will reduce the negative impact. The real gorilla in the room with all of this is, "what happens next with other water affiliated in some way with Bureau of Reclamation?" In northern Colorado, water like Lon Hagler and Boedecker come to mind. The announcement is silent on this, as we enter a new year where a new fee is being imposed on boaters to cover the cost of ANS inspection.

Stay tuned, though. 

The ambitious and thus-far successful program to prevent invasive zebra and quagga mussels from spreading into Colorado exempts hand-launched, non-motorized watercraft, such as kayaks, canoes, belly boats, sailboards, rafts, float tubes, windsurfer boards and inner tubes. They're considered unlikely to be an ANS carrier. Last fall, boat ramps and ANS inspection stations at two popular impoundments, Jumbo and Turquoise, closed earlier than normal because of funding issues, and will remain closed until inspections resume sometime next spring.

Here is a link to the state's ANS inspection web page:

Following is the complete Parks and Wildlife news release, taken from its website: 

Dec. 27, 2018

Lake Pueblo boat ANS inspection hours to expand, ramps to be locked after hours

PUEBLO, Colo. At the request of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), winter boat ramp hours at Lake Pueblo State Park will change to ensure all boats are inspected for invasive zebra and quagga mussels, known as Aquatic Nuisance Species, or ANS.
Effective Jan. 7, ramp gates will be locked and lake access restricted when ANS inspection stations are closed.

The good news for boaters is that Colorado Parks and Wildlife has committed to expanding ANS inspection hours to reduce the hours gates are locked. On Thursday, CPW secured funding from three partner agencies Colorado Springs Utilities, Pueblo Water and the Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District to expand the ANS inspection hours.

So as the new locked-gate policy takes effect, CPW will open its ANS stations daily at 5 a.m., three hours earlier than before, and keep them open until 6 p.m., or two hours later each day.
CPW had been leaving the gates open 24 hours a day and allowing boats to come and go from the time ANS stations closed at 4 p.m. until they reopened at 8 a.m. CPW was operating under a drop-box system common at CPW-operated reservoirs. It requires boaters to insert in the drop-boxes written proof their boats had passed a pre-inspection process before entering the water during off hours.

But the BOR, which built Lake Pueblo in 1970-75 to provide drinking and irrigation water to southeast Colorado, was uncomfortable with the drop-box system. Invasive mussels have caused billions of dollars in infrastructure damage in neighboring states water systems and BOR doesnt want the risk.

As spring arrives, CPW will revert to its traditional ramp hours. From March 1-April 14, the ANS inspection stations will operate 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Then on April 15, summer hours resume and the stations will be open 5 a.m.-11 p.m.

ANS inspection rules require all trailered or motorized watercraft must be inspected by on-site staff prior to launching and after exiting the lake. Boaters who fail to follow the protocols can be intercepted on the water or as they come off the lake. They face a citation for the violation and a fine.

CPWs strict inspection procedures have kept Lake Pueblo free of invasive zebra and quagga mussels, said Monique Mullis, Lake Pueblo manager. We are grateful to our partners for funding the extended ANS inspection hours.

For more information about CPWs ANS Program and the Mussel-Free Colorado Act, visit http://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/ISP-ANS.aspx.
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