Mandatory boat inspection program approved
Colorado State Parks board members approved a statewide mandatory boat inspection program Friday to protect Colorado waters from aquatic invasive species (AIS), including the zebra mussels, which was discovered at Lake Pueblo.
DENVER--Colorado State Parks board members approved a statewide mandatory boat inspection program Friday to protect Colorado waters from aquatic invasive species (AIS), including the zebra mussels, which was discovered at Lake Pueblo. Zebra mussels are a non-native invasive mollusk that is harmful to the environment, and park officials are taking steps necessary to try to contain their spread.
The parks board decision means that all boats including motors, trailers and related equipment will be subjected to inspections for any non-native or exotic plant material and aquatic wildlife identified as AIS prior to launch or departure from state park waters.
Boats may be denied access or placed under quarantine if inspection is refused or if AIS are found on or within a boat or boating equipment.
The inspections will begin next month at Lake Pueblo and expand this spring to four other parks that have been identified as high risk for transport of AIS: Navajo, Cherry Creek, Chatfield and John Martin State Parks.
The inspections are necessary since AIS are primarily transported over land to other bodies of water by hitchhiking on recreational vehicles, including boats, jet skis and boat trailers. AIS or aquatic nuisance species are non-native, invasive plants and animals that have been introduced to new habitats outside of their native range. Unchecked these organisms will quickly spread and out compete native species.
Aquatic nuisance species have no effective predators and have detrimental impacts on the environment, recreation, water quality and water transport. Several other aquatic nuisance species have reached Colorado, including the New Zealand mud snail and water weeds.
Nationally, federal officials have adopted a number of measures to prevent the spread of AIS including the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990, National Invasive Species Act of 1996 and the Lacey Act. Many western states including California, Utah and Washington have taken similar action to protect their waters.
All boaters are encouraged to follow these practices to help prevent the spread of AIS:
Before leaving any body of water, boaters should:
--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.
Colorado State Parks is finalizing a Rapid Response Plan for the zebra mussels at Lake Pueblo and have been part of a statewide AIS partnership since 2004.
In 2007, the partnership formalized efforts and began writing the Colorado Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan, which is scheduled for completion in March. Additional information can be found at www.parks.state.co.us, www.100thmeridian.org, and www.protectyourwaters.com.
Attracting more than 11 million visitors per year, Colorado's 42 State Parks are a vital cornerstone in Colorado's economy and quality of life, offering some of the best outdoor recreation destinations in the state. Colorado State Parks manages more than 4,000 campsites, 57 cabins and yurts, encompassing 246,000 land and water acres. For more information on Colorado State Parks or to purchase an annual pass online, visit www.parks.state.co.us.