Boat inspections begin at Ruedi Reservoir
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – Beefed-up boat inspections at Ruedi Reservoir, east of Basalt, begin today and will continue every weekend throughout the summer.
Boaters will encounter the inspection station at the main boat ramp at the reservoir, adjacent to the Ruedi Creek campgrounds. Inspectors will be looking for invasive species – zebra and quagga mussels in particular – that boats may transport from other, contaminated waters.
Last summer, the Colorado Division of Wildlife arranged for a roving inspection unit to set up occasionally at the Ruedi boat ramp. This year, the agency is focusing its efforts on heavily used Front Range reservoirs, and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority has stepped up to spearhead the local inspection effort, according to Mark Fuller, RWAPA director.
RWAPA has received a $10,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service and contributions from local governments and agencies, including the Roaring Fork Conservancy, the Colorado River Water Conservation District and the Aspen Skiing Co. to help fund the inspection program.
All boats arriving at Ruedi that have tags certifying they have been inspected prior to arrival at the reservoir will be allowed to enter the water immediately. All others will be asked to submit to a brief inspection to ensure that they have been cleaned and dried since last entering the water. Inspections should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes and will include information on how to ensure invasive species are not inadvertently transported from one location to another.
Any boats that are found to be carrying invasive species will be required to be decontaminated and reinspected before they are allowed to launch, according to RWAPA. There is no charge associated with the inspection or decontamination, which involves power-washing the vessel with extremely hot water to remove and kill the organisms.
Zebra mussels and their cousin, the quagga mussel, are voracious, freshwater mollusks that cause costly damage, attaching themselves to boat hulls, motors and water-system intakes, clogging pumps, pipes and outdoor motors. Inadvertently transplanted from central Asia, they have no known predators in the West and can reproduce rapidly. Evidence of mussel infestations have been found in several bodies of water in Colorado, including Blue Mesa Reservoir and Grand Lake, but have not been detected at Ruedi.
Boaters can spread zebra mussel eggs and larvae without knowing it, and a single breeding pair of zebra mussels can result in a huge colony, say experts. Adult mussels are typically about the size of a fingernail.
The inspection program will be in place from noon to 7 p.m. on Fridays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. On holiday weekends, including Memorial Day, Sunday hours will be extended to 8 p.m., and inspections will take place on Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The program continues through the Labor Day weekend.
Go to the DOW website – http://wildlife.state.co.us/fishing/mandatoryboatinspections.htm – for details on boat regulations regarding mussel inspections and decontamination.