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DENVER – Fewer boats requiring decontamination due to fouling by destructive species entered Colorado in 2022 compared to previous years with nearly 500,000 inspections performed.

However, for the first time, Colorado Parks and Wildlife detected adult invasive zebra mussels at Highline Lake.

The fight continues for the agency’s statewide inspection program this year as Aquatic Nuisance Species staff will work to keep invasive species from spreading in the state’s lakes and reservoirs.

“The discovery at Highline Lake emphasizes the need for CPW to continue to strive to meet the challenge of protecting the state’s waters and infrastructure from aquatic nuisance species,” said Robert Walters, CPW’s ANS program manager. “And as boating season approaches we continue to ask for help from boat owners to combat invasive species in the state.”

Colorado’s ANS inspectors were busy during 2022. Staff conducted a total of 446,663 inspections and decontaminated 27,003 boats suspected of carrying mussels, other aquatic invasive species or standing water. Most concerning is the continued increase in the number of boats fouled with mussels.

In 2019, 86 boats were found to be fouled with invasive mussels. In 2020, that number jumped to 100. And in 2021 that skyrocketed to 181.

In 2022, CPW found 148 boats entering the state with this highly destructive species in spite of a significant overall drop in boating at Lake Powell due to low water levels and lack of ramp access.

Mussels are destructive to aquatic habitat, can seriously damage reservoir infrastructure and cause problems on boats.

Contaminated boats usually come into Colorado from neighboring states, especially Utah and Arizona because of our proximity to Lake Powell which has been mussel-infested for years.

Other neighboring states with mussel infestations include Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and South Dakota.

Most Midwestern and East Coast states also have infested waters.

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