DENVER - As the weather warms and boat owners ready for spring, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks are launching the annual effort to protect the state's lakes, reservoirs and rivers from aquatic invaders. The focus of this year's efforts will be zebra and quagga mussels, but boat inspectors will also check for New Zealand mud snails, rusty crayfish and other invasive species.
"This will be the fourth year of Colorado's active boat inspection program and we continue to make the process more efficient, more effective and more convenient," said Elizabeth Brown, who leads the Division of Wildlife's statewide invasive species efforts. "Boaters stepped up to help improve this process and educate each other and we truly appreciate their partnership with us."
Since 2007, officials have stressed the "clean, drain and dry" message to educate boaters on how to make sure their crafts aren't moving anything from one water to another.
"Boats that are clean and dry will get through these inspections more quickly," Brown said. "Dirty, wet boats are going to get a longer look and may need decontamination before being able to proceed."
Specially trained State Parks' staff will inspect boats entering the water at 29 State Parks. Seven State Parks that are open or will open this week for the 2011 boating season are: Barr Lake, Boyd Lake, Chatfield, Cherry Creek, Highline Lake, Jackson Lake, John Martin and Lake Pueblo.
"Inspections at other State Parks will start as the warm weather thaws the ice and the water is available for boating," said Gene Seagle, invasive species coordinator for Colorado State Parks. "We have a great boating resource and appreciate the growing understanding of the need for these inspection programs within the boating community."
Division of Wildlife teams have begun boat inspections at Jumbo and Prewitt Reservoirs in northeastern Colorado's Logan County. The reservoirs opened for boating Friday, March 11. Douglas Reservoir will open to boating April 1.
Other Division of Wildlife inspection operations will be carried out at waters around the state as boating access becomes available in April and May. The Division of Wildlife offers boat inspections on dozens of lakes and reservoirs.
In just the past two years boat inspectors have intercepted more than 30 boats with mussels attached coming into Colorado. Those boats have been stopped from entering Colorado waters, preventing the spread of these invasive species. Because of the success of these interventions, no new zebra or quagga mussel positive waters have been discovered in the state since 2008.
Boaters who live or are traveling through Denver, Grand Junction or Hot Sulphur Springs also have access to the Division of Wildlife's permanent boat inspection facilities. Boats inspected at these facilities can be affixed with a seal that will allow the boater to get through reservoir inspections much more quickly.
"A lot of boaters find that it is more convenient to run the boat over to the Division of Wildlife office and get the inspection done a few days before they head out," Brown said. "That way, when the day of the fishing trip comes around, they can get through the inspection and onto the water much faster."
Inspection stations at the Division's Denver headquarters at 6060 Broadway in Denver, Northwest regional office at 711 Independent in Grand Junction and Hot Sulphur Springs area office at 346 Grand County Road 362 are available weekdays during regular business hours.
Colorado State Parks has a series of short videos about the topic available on their website at: http://parks.state.co.us/Boating/Pages/BoatingProgramHome.aspx
To also help boaters learn more about invasive mussels and to help boaters understand the inspection process, the Division of Wildlife has posted several videos on its website. The videos are available at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos/Mussel.htmhttp://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos/watercraftinspection.htm
Below are hours for some recently opened State Parks inspection operations. For additional details, see the State Parks website at http://parks.state.co.us/Boating/NewBoatInspection/Pages/BoatInspection.aspx
Barr Lake State Park: inspection hours will be 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekends only in March with expanded hours beginning April 1 (see website for additional information)
Boyd Lake State Park, main boat ramp, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Mon.-Thur., 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Fri., Sat., and Sun. through May 1, when hours will expand from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily
Chatfield State Park: north boat ramp open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. South ramp opens April 1 and hours at both ramps extend May 1 to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Cherry Creek State Park, East Ramp, 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily
Highline Lake State Park, main boat ramp, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily
Jackson Lake State Park will open for boating Friday, March 18, inspections 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mon. through Fri. and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sat. and Sun. On May 1, the hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily.
John Martin State Park will open Wed., March 16, inspections 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Mon. through Fri. and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
Lake Pueblo State Park, main ramp, 5 a.m. - 11 p.m. daily (see website for additional information)
Below are hours for some recently opened Division of Wildlife State Wildlife Area waters. For additional inspection sites and hours, see: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/MandatoryBoatInspections.htm.
Prewitt Reservoir, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Fri., Sat., Sun. and Mon. Beginning April 1, inspections will be seven days a week from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Jumbo Reservoir, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Fri., Sat., Sun. and Mon. Beginning April 1, inspections will be seven days a week from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Douglas Reservoir will open to boating April 1.
Attracting more than 12 million visitors per year, Colorado's 42 State Parks are a vital cornerstone of Colorado's economy and quality of life. Colorado State Parks encompass 224,447 land and water acres, offering some of the best outdoor recreation destinations in the state. Colorado State Parks is a leader in providing opportunities for outdoor recreation, protecting the state's favorite landscapes, teaching generations about nature and partnering with communities. Colorado State Parks also manage more than 4,300 campsites, and 63 cabins and yurts. For more information on Colorado State Parks or to purchase an annual pass online, visit www.parks.state.co.us.
-- Source: "The Fishing Wire," www.TheFishingWire.com. Used with permission.