Mussel-Free Colorado Act signed into law by Gov. Hickenlooper

I spent multiple years working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife doing education and inspection for Aquatic Nuisance Species. This is an effort to preserve our clean waters and native fish. It’s good news to see the new law signed by Governor John Hickenlooper.

Governor John Hickenlooper signs Mussel-Free Colorado Act into law

CPW_SiteLogoDENVER, Colo. – On Tuesday, April 24, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the Mussel-Free Colorado Act into law in a short ceremony at the Colorado State Capitol Building in Denver. The new law provides a stable funding source of $2.4 million for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Program for 2019 and beyond.

In February, the House passed the bill 44 – 20. The bill passed the Senate 24 – 10 in March.

“This is a huge win for protecting Colorado’s water,” said CPW Director Bob Broscheid. “Stable funding for the ANS program means a stable future for Colorado.”

The law requires Colorado residents to purchase a $25 ANS stamp for their boat. Non-residents must purchase a $50 stamp. The new law also:

  • Continues Tier 2 Severance Tax appropriations, when available, to cover the remainder of the $4.5 – $5 million annual cost of ANS program implementation
  • Increases fines for ANS-related violations. The fine for unlawful boat launches without inspection will be raised from $50 to $100. The fine for knowing importation of ANS into the state will be raised from $150 to $500 for a first offense.
  • Allows CPW to charge labor/costs incurred to store and decontaminate intercepted vessels.
  • Encourages federal partners to take responsibility for ANS inspection funding at their reservoirs.

CPW-Gov-HickenlooperWhy do we need a mussel-free Colorado?

Zebra and quagga mussels are not native to the nation’s rivers, lakes and reservoirs and are considered our most serious invasive species threat. Adult infestations harm aquatic ecosystems and fisheries by disrupting the food web and outcompeting native species. They cause enormous problems for water infrastructure used for municipal, agriculture and industrial purposes by attaching to, clogging and impairing water storage, treatment and distribution systems.


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Eradicating an adult mussel infestation in an open water body is nearly impossible. Controlling infestations becomes a permanent and expensive part of normal operations post invasion. Colorado has implemented an effective prevention program to stop mussel introduction by inspecting and decontaminating watercraft before they enter our waters and ensuring that users clean, drain and dry their own watercraft in between each use.

Almost all the states east of Colorado have a zebra or quagga mussel infestation. A mandatory watercraft inspection and decontamination program, coupled with monitoring and education, is the best approach to keep Colorado free of the invasive mussels and other ANS.

In 2017, Colorado inspectors intercepted 26 boats infested with adult mussels coming in from out of state – a new record. Colorado has intercepted more than 145 boats infested with adult mussels since the ANS Program began in 2008. The number of infested boats increase each year and there have already been six infested boats intercepted in 2018.



Colorado’s ANS Program was in Jeopardy

The Colorado ANS Program was authorized by the Colorado Legislature in 2008 utilizing severance tax funds. CPW has leveraged those funds with federal and local grants to fund the ANS Program since inception. However, severance tax is a fluctuating source and federal funds have been reduced in recent years. The Mussel-Free Colorado Act is essential to providing a stable base of funding for the ANS Program to be leveraged with other dollars for the continued protection of water infrastructure, natural resources and maintaining recreational access to lakes and reservoirs. This funding source is critical to protecting our waters and water infrastructure from irreversible invasion.

For more information about CPW’s ANS Program and the Mussel-Free Colorado Act, visit http://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/ISP-ANS.aspx.

CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW’s work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.


NEW RULES for Aquatic Invasive Species Control – New Mexico

While I often volunteer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife(CPW), I used to work for them at Navajo Lake, which extends into New Mexico. In fact, the majority of this lake is in New Mexico. I educated boaters about aquatic nuisance species, also known as ANS or AIS (aquatic invasive species). At the time our southern neighbors didn’t have a program to protect our uninfected waters.

While boaters were receptive to the education process, at our particular lake, they questioned, “What are they doing about those who are launching on the other end? Are they being inspected?”

They indeed were not performing education or inspection at the time so I encouraged boaters to learn and then educate their friends. Knowledge is power and this way we could all keep the waters free of the invasive species.

Gradually, New Mexico Department of Fish and Game has come on board in education, inspection, and enforcement of rules for boaters. This is great news, as they mention, Colorado and New Mexico are only two of six states that remain free of zebra and quagga mussel infestations. Learn more by reading their release below.

New rules to battle aquatic invasive species now in effect

nmdgf-logo-color_originalSANTA FE – New rules to combat the spread of aquatic invasive species in New Mexico went into effect July 11.

Changes include:

  • Watercraft owners are required to stop at an inspection station whenever one is set up and in operation.
  • Mandatory inspection and, if necessary, decontamination is required of all out-of-state registered watercraft or watercraft re-entering the state of New Mexico.
  • All boaters are required to “pull the plug” and completely drain watercraft when transporting on a New Mexico roadway.

“The boating public’s cooperation is essential in our fight to prevent destructive invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels from infecting our waterways,” said James Dominguez, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. “These changes will help our watercraft inspectors and law enforcement personnel as they conduct watercraft inspections at our water bodies.”Aquatic-Aliens-New-Mexico-Clean-Drain-Dry-NMDGF

New Mexico is one of only six western states that remain free of zebra or quagga mussel infestation but is surrounded by states where the invasive species have been found. The mussels can attach to boats and grow quickly, leading to encrusted equipment and clogged water pipes. Their spread also poses a risk to our native aquatic wildlife, hydroelectric power systems and surface water delivery lines used for municipalities and agriculture.

Inspectors are stationed at various lakes and reservoirs throughout the state to ensure that watercraft is completely clean, drained and dry before launching. Boaters can help by adopting these measures on their own.

For more information about the battle against aquatic invasive species, please visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us/ais and www.facebook.com/aquaticaliens or contact the department’s Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, James Dominguez, (505) 476-8163, or james.dominguez@state.nm.us.


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Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

Boat inspections prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species

nmdgf-logo-color_originalSANTA FE –Boaters will encounter inspection stations at New Mexico lakes this summer as the battle to keep aquatic invasive species out of the state’s waters continues.

“The boating public’s cooperation has been essential in our fight to prevent destructive invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels from infecting our waterways,” said James Dominiguez, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Largely due to mandatory inspection stations, New Mexico remains free of zebra or quagga mussel infestation but is surrounded by states where the invasive species have taken root. The mussels can attach to boats and grow quickly, leading to encrusted equipment and clogged water pipes. Their spread also poses a risk to our native aquatic wildlife, hydroelectric power systems and surface water delivery lines used for municipalities and agriculture. Mandatory boat inspections are one way the state is working to educate the public and keep the invasive mussels out.

All boats are required to stop for inspection when check stations are in operation. All out-of-state boats or any boats re-entering the state must obtain an inspection prior to being launched or exposed to any water body in the state. The department, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and New Mexico State Parks, are manning inspection stations at most lakes this summer, including Navajo Lake, Elephant Butte, Ute, Bluewater and Conchas lakes.

Boaters are required to have their boats’ drain plugs pulled while trailered to allow water to drain. Keeping boats and related equipment clean, drained and dry is a primary means of combatting the spread of invasive mussels.

For more information on boat inspection locations and how you can help keep the state free of aquatic invasive species, please visit http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/fishing/fishing-regulations/aquatic-invasive-species/.

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Colorado Boating Underway

Boating is underway in many Colorado lakes and reservoirs; some changes expected due to reduced funding for watercraft inspection stations to prevent invasive species

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All boaters are asked to take a few simple, precautionary steps – every time they go to a lake, river or stream.

CPW_SiteLogoDENVER – As ice comes off the lakes and reservoirs, many opened to boating on March 1 and several more will follow in April and May. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has coordinated a successful mandatory inspection and decontamination program statewide since 2008 to protect boating and angling, natural resources and infrastructure from harmful invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels. Boaters can expect changes to the program this year due to a lack of funding to implement the program while the state searches for long-term solutions to maintain protection.

A Colorado Supreme Court decision in 2016 eliminated a primary source of the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Program’s funding, the severance tax. Since then, the statewide collaborative program has been faced with many challenges to maintain the program. CPW has allocated internal funds and worked with a broad partnership group to raise funds for the 2017 boating season and find sustainable funding solutions. With the need to protect our waters, facilities and infrastructure from the possibility of infestation of invasive mussels, CPW has appealed for assistance to our ANS program partners. These partners include municipal water providers, irrigation and water districts, federal and state agencies and counties that would share the risk if infestation were to occur.

CLICK TO SHOP

“Although the main source of the program’s previous funding is gone, we have received close to a million dollars from partners, in addition to funding allocated internally, enabling us to continue protecting most at-risk waters,” said CPW Invasive Species Coordinator Elizabeth Brown. “We are pleased that ANS inspections will be curtailed at only a few waters this year, but a consistent source of funds is needed to maintain our protection program in future years.”

State regulations require watercraft to be inspected and possibly decontaminated prior to entering a Colorado water body after being launched out of state. Boats coming from out of state pose the greatest risk to our waters. In addition, watercraft requires inspection after leaving a water body that is positive for any listed ANS in the state, and some managers and owners require inspection prior to launching at their specific lake or reservoir. Some watercraft are exempt from the mandatory inspection regulations, including hand-launched kayaks, canoes, rafts, belly boats, windsurfer boards, paddle boards, sail boards, inner tubes and float tubes.

“Without inspections and decontaminations, the risk of a harmful invasive species infestation increases significantly,” said CPW Public Information Officer Lauren Truitt. “We have been able to prevent an infestation in Colorado and we will continue to work with the public and water owners and managers to prevent infestations in the future.”boat-ramp-boating-lake

Because of the funding shortfall, ANS inspections may be reduced at locations with stations and a few waters that previously had inspections will not have stations in operation this year, leaving them more vulnerable to invasive species. Water owners and managers that find their reservoirs unprotected this year may decide to close to watercraft requiring ANS inspections this season. The state is currently working with partners to secure funding for waters that had ANS stations last year and are not funded for 2017.

CPW urges boaters to check the CPW website to verify whether their favorite lake or reservoir is open to watercraft that requires an ANS inspection, and the hours of operation if so, prior to going out to the lake. CPW asks the boating community for patience and cooperation as the agency continues to look for solutions.

“There are two main ways mussels can get to bodies of water. The primary way is by moving overland attached to boats, trailers and equipment. The other is by moving downstream, and since we are a headwaters state and there are no mussels upstream, this is not going to happen,” said Brown. “If a body of water suffers an infestation here, all downstream states could also be infested. This is why Colorado’s waters are not just a state priority but a national priority.”

CLICK TO SHOP

To mitigate the reduction in statewide inspections this year and align with western U.S. regional priorities CPW passed new regulations earlier this year which now require all watercraft operators, including those vessels on the exempt list, to “clean, drain and dry” in between each launch. In addition, boat operators must pull water drain plugs and remove plants upon exiting the water and before leaving the parking area. It is now prohibited to travel overland with water drain plugs in place and vegetation attached.

“We focus on the highest risk waters because there has never been, and will never be, enough money to staff every boat ramp in Colorado or across the nation with inspectors and decontaminators,” said Truitt. “It is up to every boater, angler and recreationist to clean, drain and dry their watercraft and equipment in between each and every use to ensure they are not moving ANS from one water to another. Many invaders, including young zebra and quagga mussels, are microscopic and can’t be seen with the naked eye. Draining water is critical to stopping the spread.”

Invasive species can include zebra and quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnail, Asian carp, rusty crayfish, Eurasian watermilfoil, and other plants and animals. As is the current situation in many lakes and reservoirs across the U.S., zebra and quagga mussel populations can quickly grow to the billions, clogging reservoir infrastructure and endangering the food chain.

“CPW depends on the support of boaters and anglers to prevent the introduction and spread of zebra and quagga mussels and other invasive species, which is critical to providing outstanding water-based recreation in Colorado,” said Brown. “All vessel owners need to be aware of the dangers of ANS and the small but effective steps they can take to ensure their vessels don’t introduce an invasive species into our waters, causing irreversible harm.”

CPW’s goal through the ANS program is to protect the state’s natural resources, outdoor recreation and water supply infrastructure by preventing invasive species introductions. CPW’s invasive species program has been very successful in preventing infestations of invasive species ranging from zebra and quagga mussels to noxious weeds in bodies of water in Colorado. Through mandatory inspection stations at waters throughout Colorado, CPW has prevented adult mussels from entering and establishing in our lakes and reservoirs. Long-term funding for this program will allow CPW to continue working alongside water owners and the public to keep the state’s waters clear of infestation and open for recreationalists to enjoy.

Learn more about ANS at the CPW website.

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CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 42 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW’s work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.


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Boaters in New Mexico – Expect Inspections

Expect inspections this boating season as state battles aquatic invasive species

NMDGF-New-Mexico-Department-of-Game-and-Fish


Aquatic-Aliens-New-Mexico-Clean-Drain-Dry-NMDGFSANTA FE – Boaters can expect to encounter inspection stations at New Mexico lakes this summer as we continue to keep aquatic invasive species out of the state’s waters.

“We appreciate the boating public’s cooperation in our fight to prevent destructive invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels from infecting our waterways,” said James Dominiguez, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Largely due to mandatory inspection stations, New Mexico remains free of zebra or quagga mussel infestation but is surrounded by states where the invasive species have taken root. The mussels can attach to boats and grow quickly, leading to encrusted equipment and clogged water pipes. Their spread also poses a risk to our native aquatic wildlife, hydroelectric power systems and surface water delivery lines used for municipalities and agriculture. Mandatory boat inspections are one way the state is working to educate the public and keep the invasive mussels out.


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All boats are required to stop for inspection when check stations are in operation. All out-of-state boats or any boats re-entering the state must obtain an inspection prior to being launched or exposed to any water body in the state. The department, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and New Mexico State Parks, are manning inspection stations at most lakes this summer, including Navajo Lake, Elephant Butte, Ute, Bluewater and Conchas lakes.

Boaters are required to have their boats’ drain plugs pulled while trailered to allow water to drain. Keeping boats and related equipment clean, drained and dry is a primary means of combatting the spread of invasive mussels.

For more information on boat inspection locations and how you can help keep the state free of aquatic invasive species, please visit http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/fishing/fishing-regulations/aquatic-invasive-species/. ;


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