Three boats carrying invasive mussels were found trying to get onto Navajo Lake in the past month, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“Colorado is surrounded by states where waters are infested with mussels,” Brian Sandy, manager of Navajo State Park, said in a news release. “It’s the owner’s responsibility to know.”
Microscopic zebra and quagga mussels can quickly infest a waterway, clog reservoir infrastructure and endanger other aquatic life. While not in Colorado, mussels can be found in water bodies across the country, including Lake Powell.
In recent years, motorized boats have become significant transmitters of the invasive species, forcing CPW to embark on an extensive and expensive inspection process.
It was during these inspections at Navajo State Park that the three boats were found, CPW spokesman Joe Lewandowski said. One was a pontoon boat; the other two were house boats.
Statewide, eight boats have been found this year trying to get onto Colorado lakes while infested with the mussels. Two of the boats had been purchased recently by Colorado residents in Arizona and had been on mussel-infested lakes. The owners told CPW the boats had been decontaminated in Arizona, but mussels were still found in cracks, crevices and in the engines of the boats.
Anyone unsure if a boat is contaminated should contact CPW to set up an inspection. Boat owners who bring boats into the state that are contaminated and don’t notify CPW face up to a $1,000 fine.
Since the inspection program started in 2008, CPW and partners have inspected 4.4 million boats. Of that amount, 204 boats with mussels have been intercepted and decontaminated.
CPW said the threat of transporting mussels appears to be growing. In 2018, for instance, 51 boats with mussels were found at inspection stations, a stark increase from the year before when just 26 boats were found to be infested.
Derek Holden, senior ranger at Navajo State Park, said in a news release that boats should also get an exit inspection after taking them onto Colorado water bodies.
“You’ll receive a seal and a receipt, so then next time you come back, we can make a quick check and get you to the boat ramp in a short amount of time,” he said.