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CPW inspectors find mussels on boats in southwest Colorado
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Even though the boating season is just getting started, Colorado Parks and Wildlife boat inspectors have already found eight boats infested with mussels. Most recently, CPW has found mussels on three boats at Navajo State Park during the last month.

Two of the boats had been purchased recently by Colorado residents in Arizona and had been on mussel infested lakes. The owners said the boats had been decontaminated in Arizona, but CPW inspectors still found mussels in cracks, crevices and in the engines of the boats. One was a pontoon boat and the other two were house boats.

CPW reminds owners, especially those bringing in boats from outside the state, to make sure their boats are decontaminated before bringing them into Colorado. Anyone who is unsure if their boat is contaminated should contact CPW in advance to set up an inspection. Boat owners who bring in boats from areas known to be contaminated and fail to alert CPW can face fines of up to $1,000.

“Colorado is surrounded by states where waters are infested with mussels,” said Brian Sandy, manager of Navajo State Park. “It’s the owner’s responsibility to know.”

CPW inspectors take their time and are careful when they look at boats. Mussels can attach to areas that are not easily seen, explained Derek Holden, senior ranger at Navajo State Park. To look inside holes, engine assemblies and other tight spots CPW uses a special fiber-optic camera. Inspectors also look at ropes, trailers, inside live wells and at any spot where mussels could attach.

Since the ANS program started in Colorado in 2008, CPW staff and other entities have completed 4.4 million boat inspections, more than 90,000 boats have been decontaminated and, including this year, 204 vessels with confirmed mussel infestations have been intercepted and decontaminated. The threat of boats transporting mussels also appears to be growing: In 2018, 51 boats with adult mussels were found at inspection stations, far more than the previous record of 26 boats in a single year.

Waters in southwest Colorado are especially vulnerable because of the proximity to Lake Powell which has been heavily infested for many years.

Holden said that boaters should be sure to get an exit inspection before taking their boats out of Colorado lakes and reservoirs. “You’ll receive a seal and a receipt, so they next time you come back we can make a quick check and get you to the boat ramp in a short amount of time.”

For more information, call the nearest state park or go to: