Released On: March 03, 2008
After two weeks of underwater investigations, the Bureau of Reclamation announced Monday that no adult zebra mussels have been found at Lake Pueblo.
Reclamation specialists used a remote underwater camera and divers to investigate the most likely places where zebra mussels would be found; the North Marina, the South Marina, and Pueblo Dam itself.
"Not finding adult zebra mussels doesn't mean they are not in Lake Pueblo," said Michael Collins, area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation.
Previous tests have confirmed that there are microscopic offspring of zebra mussels, known as veligers, in Lake Pueblo.
The underwater investigation started after a joint Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks monitoring program found two zebra mussels near the North Marina where veligers were found.
"We're very fortunate that we caught this early so that we have an opportunity to minimize the spread though boat inspections," said Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
"On behalf of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, including the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) and Colorado State Parks, I'd like to express my appreciation for the time and effort the Bureau of Reclamation has committed to investigating the situation at Lake Pueblo," said Sherman.
He credited a joint DOW and state parks monitoring program for alerting the state and providing time to work with the Colorado Legislature on a response plan.
Greg Gerlich, DOW's Chief of Fisheries, said Lake Pueblo had been tested for zebra mussels for several years, but none were found.
The monitoring program tested 159 other Colorado lakes and reservoirs in 2007 without finding evidence of zebra mussels. Gerlich said the monitoring program will continue at Lake Pueblo and the other lakes and reservoirs this year.
The Colorado State Parks board recently approved a statewide inspection program for boats, kayaks, canoes, sail boats, jet-skis and all vessels. They may be subjected to inspections prior to entering or leaving Colorado State Parks with lakes, reservoirs or rivers.
"Zebra mussels have spread rapidly through the United States," said Dean Winstanley, director of Colorado State Parks. "The inspections may protect Lake Pueblo from additional invasive species and prevent zebra mussels from Lake Pueblo from spreading elsewhere."
The inspections will start at Lake Pueblo State Park in March.
Brad Henley, assistant park manager at Lake Pueblo, said the new rules will also require all vessels to unload and load only at the North and South Boat Ramps.
Shoreline loading and unloading of all vessels, including jet-skis, will no longer be allowed.
"We are asking for everyone's patience and cooperation with the new inspection program," said Henley.
The parks board also has approved extending the inspection program to Colorado's largest and most used boating reservoirs: Chatfield State Park, Cherry Creek State Park, John Martin Reservoir State Park and Navajo State Park. Inspections at those parks will start later this spring.
"We need to move aggressively to protect the many recreational opportunities at state parks and to protect the state's water resources," said Winstanley. "Education and public awareness are our best tools."
Boaters can help prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species. Before leaving any body of water, boaters should:
- DRAIN the water from the vessel, live well and the lower unit of the engine
- CLEAN the hull of the vessel.
- DRY the vessel, fishing gear, and equipment.
- INSPECT all exposed surfaces.
- REMOVE all plant and animal material.
"We hope that recreational watercraft users will recognize the importance of cleaning, draining and inspecting their vessels to help decrease the risk of transporting zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species," said DOW's Gerlich.
The Bureau of Reclamation and Colorado will continue to work cooperatively to address the zebra mussel issue in Colorado and monitor the waters for additional infestations.
DOI | Recreation.gov | USA.gov
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