Ruedi inspections turn up no invasive species | AspenTimes.com

Ruedi inspections turn up no invasive species

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Courtesy Ruedi Power and Water Authority

BASALT – Nearly 3,000 inspections of boats going in and out of Ruedi Reservoir this past summer turned up no sign of the invasive species that have been inadvertently introduced into other reservoirs in Colorado.

The program, in its second year, intercepted more than 75 percent of the boats launched at Ruedi over the course of the summer, between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, according to the Ruedi Power and Water Authority, the lead agency in the effort.

“It’s one of those things where, if you don’t get any results, it’s a success,” said Mark Fuller, the authority’s director.

Inspections took place on Wednesday through Sunday of each week, plus Monday holidays, ending with Labor Day, on Sept. 5. The program averaged about 40 boats per day; the busiest day was July 27, when 143 boats were checked.

In all, 2,024 inspections were done on boats entering the reservoir, while 951 inspections were conducted on boats coming out of the lake.

Inspectors were looking for zebra and quagga mussels, destructive species that have infested other Colorado reservoirs, but have not been detected in Ruedi.

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Eight boats were deemed high-risk vessels because they were carrying water from other bodies of water in bilge tanks or other containers that could carry mussels or their larvae. They were subjected to a high-pressure wash with steaming-hot water at the inspection station.

Boaters should completely drain and dry their boat when moving from one body of water to another, Fuller explained.

Inspections at Ruedi first occurred in 2009 with infrequent checks by a roving inspection unit arranged by state wildlife officials; it set up occasionally at the Ruedi boat ramp. In 2010, the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, or RWAPA, spearheaded a beefed-up effort on summer weekends. Last year’s inspections also came up negative.

This year’s effort was the most intensive yet, with inspections on 73 of the 99 days between May 27 and Sept. 5. In addition, operational improvements were made to let boats or vehicles that didn’t need to be inspected pass through more easily, and the size of the inspection crew was doubled on Fridays and Saturdays to speed up the process.

RWAPA reported few complaints from the boating public, though one individual was reportedly dismayed that the inspection station wasn’t operating continuously.

Next season, the inspections may take place on Friday through Tuesday of each week in an attempt to intercept more boats.

Last spring, Fuller was uncertain about the future of the inspection program beyond this year, but contributors to the cost of the effort have indicated they will continue to support the program, he said Thursday.

“We’re optimistic that we’ll at least be able to duplicate this year’s program for the near future,” he said.

The total cost of this year’s effort was $25,397, RWAPA reported. Rocky Mountain Recreation, the inspection contractor, charged $24,500 for its services.

Funding for the effort came from the U.S. Forest Service ($15,000), RWAPA ($8,000), Aspen Skiing Co. Environmental Fund ($3,000), Roaring Fork Conservancy ($1,000), and the Colorado River District ($1,000). Free storage of the inspection shed is being provided in El Jebel by the Town of Basalt.

Any remaining funds from this year will go toward next year’s inspections, RWAPA said.

janet@aspentimes.com