Ruedi boat inspections to resume | AspenTimes.com

Ruedi boat inspections to resume

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – Boaters at Ruedi Reservoir, east of Basalt, will again face weekend inspections, starting in late May, but the future of the program – an effort to prevent the spread of invasive species – is unclear.

The Ruedi Water and Power Authority stepped up last year to spearhead the inspection program on summer weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day. In 2009, inspections were infrequent – the Colorado Division of Wildlife arranged for a roving inspection unit to set up occasionally at the Ruedi boat ramp, adjacent to the Ruedi Creek campgrounds.

This year, RWAPA hopes to have more people involved, in order to speed up the process of checking boats at busy times, according to Mark Fuller, the authority’s director. Inspectors are looking for zebra and quagga mussels, destructive species that have infested other Colorado reservoirs, but have not been detected in Ruedi, according to Fuller.

None of the boats checked last year were found to have mussels, but a couple of vessels that had moisture in their bilge or storage tanks required action. The tanks had to be cleaned and dried before the boats were allowed in the water, Fuller said.

RWAPA wants its search efforts to come up empty.

“It’s one of those things where having no success is success,” he said.

RWAPA took on the inspection effort to protect the reservoir when the DOW focused its sights on more heavily used reservoirs, but Fuller said the program may not be a permanent endeavor.

This year it will be funded with $15,000 from the U.S. Forest Service, plus contributions from the Roaring Fork Conservancy, the Colorado River Water Conservation District and the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Environmental Foundation. That money will cover inspections on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and, perhaps, Thursdays.

“It’s kind of a year-to-year thing in terms of funding,” Fuller said. “It’s one of those things where, it’s a cheap insurance policy. On the other hand, it may be that we find the vast majority of boats we inspect are local or repeat boaters.”

It’s boaters traveling from other waters that pose the greater threat. 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, experts say. Adult mussels are typically about the size of a fingernail.

Any boats that are found to carry an invasive species must be decontaminated and re-inspected 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.

When the inspection station is not operating, boaters may continue to launch their boats. The DOW encourages boaters to take the proper precautions to avoid spreading mussels. Go to the DOW website – http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/MandatoryBoatInspections.htm – for details on boat regulations regarding mussel inspections and decontamination.

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 Eurasia, they have no known predators in the West and can reproduce rapidly.

janet@aspentimes.com


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