A tiny aquatic creature is threatening Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs.

Colorado boat inspectors say they have intercepted 51 mussel-infested boats already this year, which is the same exact number as last year’s total. Being that inspectors are only half-way through the boating season, mussels found clinging to boats, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are posing a serious threat to the way we use water in Colorado.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife says billions of dollars in damage have resulted from mussel infestations, especially in the upper Midwest and Lower Colorado River – leading to a number of serious issues including out-competing sport fish and native fish for food and shelter, causing damage to boat engines, and resulting in mussel-clogged infrastructure including reservoir dams, outlet structures, and distribution systems that carry water for irrigation, municipal, and industrial uses.

Mussels can attach to hard surfaces such as boat lifts and docks. Photo Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

According to a tweet from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, inspection stations are completely overwhelmed by the number of mussel-infested boats coming into Colorado. Boat inspections, decontamination, and ongoing education are in place to prevent the spread and introduction of invasive species in Colorado.

Most of these boats are coming from out-of-state where mussel infestations already exist including Utah, Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma with a majority of these infestations are coming from Lake Powell of Utah. Anyone traveling from these heavily infested waters is advised to inspect every inch of their craft and trailer including lines, anchors, seat cushions, live wells, and paddle craft. Paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes should also be checked.

Colorado’s boat inspectors have intercepted 51 mussel-infested boats this year, the same number as all of last year; and we’re only half-way through the boating season. Photo Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

All boats that have not been previously “sealed” at Colorado reservoirs will receive a thorough inspection and engine flush at designated inspection stations. Boats that are found with mussels must be completely decontaminated, a process that can take up to a week or more.

Boat owners are warned to clean, drain, dry, and disinfect their boats before traveling to any reservoir in Colorado. For more information from Colorado Parks and Wildlife click here.


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