Fear of mussels closes Boulder Reservoir to boats
Aspen, CO Colorado
BOULDER, Colo. ” Boulder Reservoir is off-limits to large boats in an effort to stop the spread of an invasive mussel causing environmental damage across the nation’s fresh waters.
Boulder Reservoir managers announced it will be off-limits to large boats ” that is, any boat big enough to require a trailer ” until at least April 3. Officials say the quarantine will keep large boats out of the water, killing any trouble-making zebra mussels clinging to their undersides.
The zebra mussel, native to Russia, hitches a ride on ship ballast and causes environmental damage where it lands. The species has been in the Great Lakes region since the 1980s, and the black-and-brown mussels have now been found from Maryland to Arizona. The first zebra mussels were first found in Colorado last year in Lake Pueblo.
Zebra mussels reproduce and spread rapidly, threatening food sources for fish and clogging machinery and water pipes.
Betty Solek, Boulder’s water quality planner, told The Daily Camera newspaper that if the mussels get into the reservoir, they’re nearly impossible to wipe out. The invasive mussels alter the lake’s algae and fill beaches with razor-sharp shells.
Personal watercraft such as kayaks and canoes will still be allowed in Boulder Reservoir, though they may need inspections, said Paul Bousquet, a spokesman for the Parks and Recreation Department, which manages the reservoir.
“It will be a change for people to get used to,” Bousquet told the newspaper. “In the past, you’ve been able to show up and get on the water.”
Other Western states are also taking measures to stop the spread of zebra mussels. In Idaho, where no zebra mussels have been found, state lawmakers are considering raising boat registration fees to pay for a boat-cleaning program to keep zebra mussels out of Idaho waters.
And in Utah, where zebra mussels have been found in at least one state reservoir, boaters have more inspections to make sure their vessels are properly cleaned, drained and dried.
Parks officials in Boulder have scheduled a public meeting Wednesday to talk about the Boulder Reservoir quarantine.
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