Kansas boaters traveling to Colorado will be checked for aquatic nuisance species

Kansas boaters traveling to Colorado should anticipate being inspected this year as new regulations designed to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels take effect for the 2009 boating season, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) reports. These regulations, drafted by Colorado State Parks in collaboration with the DOW and the boating community, are integral to the statewide effort to prevent the further spread of zebra/quagga mussels and other aquatic nuisance species (ANS) in Colorado's lakes and reservoirs.

All nonresident boats and Colorado boats that go out-of-state and return to Colorado must pass a state-certified inspection for ANS prior to launching in any Colorado lake, reservoir, or waterway. In addition, boats that have launched on any of the Colorado lakes or reservoirs where mussels have been detected are required to pass an inspection before launching at a new location. Boaters who have successfully passed a state-certified inspection will receive a green seal and receipt. Boaters must have both the seal and receipt in their possession before they may launch at a new location.

The Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks, county and municipal reservoirs, and a variety of private marine dealers and marinas offer state-certified inspection and decontamination services throughout the state. All DOW and state parks inspection sites are free-of-charge. Privately-operated inspection and decontamination services are fee-based, and prices may vary among providers.

In addition to fixed inspections sites, the DOW will implement "Roving Patrols." The roving units will move to a different location daily, offering inspection and decontamination services (if necessary) and ensuring that boaters are complying with the new regulations. The new regulations limit inspections to trailered watercraft.

Hand-launched crafts -- including kayaks, rafts, canoes, and belly boats -- are not considered high risk for spreading ANS and may launch without an inspection.

The Colorado regulations fall in line with recommendations issued to Kansas boaters by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. According to the DOW, all boaters should remember the following steps to ensure they are not spreading mussels or other ANS to clean waters:

  • clean the hull of the vessel;
  • drain the water from the vessel, live well and the lower unit of the engine;
  • dry the vessel, fishing gear and other equipment;
  • inspect all exposed surfaces; and
  • remove all plant and animal material.

More detailed procedures for cleaning boats and ensuring that ANS are not spread may be found on the KDWP website.

Colorado law prohibits the possession or transport of any ANS in Colorado. Wildlife officers, parks officials, and other qualified peace officers may stop, inspect, decontaminate, and detain watercraft upon a “reasonable belief” that mussels or other ANS are present.

To view a comprehensive list of Colorado-certified watercraft inspection sites, visit the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s website.