Routt County lakes to inspect boats for mussels |

Routt County lakes to inspect boats for mussels

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. ” Boats will have to be inspected for any free-riding, nonnative mussels before being launched at Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake state parks this summer.

State parks and wildlife employees will check for zebra and quagga mussels, which can clog pipes, pumps and boat motors.

The invasive species were found for the first time in Colorado early last year in Lake Pueblo. They also turned up in six other lakes.

The mussels, which reproduce quickly, can infiltrate lakes by attaching to boats.

“Once these things get into the lake, there’s no way to kill them off, and they spread rapidly,” said Matt Schuler, a park ranger at Steamboat Lake in northern Routt County. “They’re filter feeders, so they eat everything in the lake. The water will be clear, but there’s nothing in it.”

Certified inspectors will be at Steamboat Lake boat ramps during weekends and at the Dutch Hill marina boat ramp during the week. Inspections are scheduled to start by Memorial Day weekend but could begin any time after the marina opens May 15.

Boat checks at Stagecoach will begin at 8 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, starting as early as this Friday.

Boats found with mussels will be decontaminated with hot water.

Under new state regulations, boats that have been on any Colorado lakes or reservoirs where zebra and quagga mussels have been found must be inspected before launching at a new site. All out-of-state boats and ones returning to Colorado must pass inspection before entering a lake.

The mussels were first discovered in the United States in the Great Lakes in 1988. It’s believed they were carried in a trans-Atlantic ship’s ballast water.