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Mountain Manners: Enjoy Blue Mesa without the Mussels

The Mesa playground

The Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water. From fishing to water skiing, the Reservoir offers every form of lake recreation. Locals call it “the Mesa.” In this edition of Mountain Manners, we ask all boaters to be on the lookout for invasive species of mussels and to cooperate with mussel inspectors when taking your boat in or out of Blue Mesa.

The Law

In 2008, eight bodies of water in Colorado tested positive for mussel larvae. In the following year, the State of Colorado passed the Aquatic Nuisance Species Act which provides funding for boat inspection programs. State law requires all boats entering Colorado from out-of-state to be inspected prior to launching in Colorado water.

Menacing mussels

Zebra and quagga mussels were first identified in the 1980s throughout the Great Lakes region. Since then they have spread to 33 states, including many near Colorado. Arizona, California, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah all have severe mussel infestations. Lake Powell is a particular concern since Colorado boaters often trailer their boats to Lake Powell for vacation. Mussels have been spreading rapidly throughout Lake Powell since 2014. Invasive mussels quickly take over the food supply and habitat of native species causing all sorts of problems.Early morning light on the Blue Mesa Reservoir

Inspect and Disinfect

Adult mussels attach themselves to shady places such as boat hulls and can live for 30 days after leaving the water. Inspections are thorough and at times tedious. If mussels are found on a boat, the area will be disinfected with high-pressure hot water ranging from 120 to 140 degrees. Inspectors ask that all boaters live by the mantra “clean, drain, dry”  to keep their boats, and Colorado’s pristine waters, free of invasive mussels.

For more information invasive mussels and the hazards they pose, visit the Curecanti Recreation Area’s site.

If you are planning to visit the Blue Mesa Reservoir this summer, plan to have your boat inspected. During the summer, inspections take place from 5:30 am to 9:00 pm at four different boat launches: Elk Creek, Lake Fork, Iola, and Stevens Creek. Get the inspection instructions and a map of locations where you can have your boat inspected here.

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