Invasive mussel prevention

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Here’s an update on invasive mussel prevention at Navajo Lake, from Dale Rodebaugh writing for the Durango Herald. From the article:

Seagle, the Colorado State Parks invasive species coordinator, spent Tuesday and Wednesday explaining to 13 full- and part-time state park employees why non-native zebra and quagga mussels – found other places in Colorado – are unwelcome and how to slam the door in their faces…

He held Tuesday’s training session at a boat storage yard at the state park. Seagle showed them how to find mussels on boats and how to remove them. The defense includes vigorous inspection and decontamination of watercraft at state park marinas and the education of boaters and anglers to the peril of allowing invasive mussels to gain a foothold. The Colorado Division of Wildlife has hired five inspectors to do the same at Vallecito and McPhee reservoirs from May through October, Jim White, a DOW fish biologist, said Wednesday…

A female mussel can produce 1 million eggs in a cycle, Seagle said. If only 10 percent survive, the propagation rate becomes astronomical. In Lake Mead, on the Nevada-Arizona border, a full-blown infestation of quagga mussels is increasing at a rate that astounds researchers, Seagle said. A boat moored in Lake Mead for nine months could collect 500 pounds of quaggas, he said…

Zebra and quagga mussels have natural predators such as ducks, crayfish, carp, eels, the European roach and bream, but nothing can eat them fast enough to clear Colorado reservoirs of their presence, Seagle said. A 12-acre lake in Virginia was cleared of mussels with a water softener soap but only because of the miniscule size of the lake, Seagle said.

More coverage from the Crested Butte News (Seth Mensing):

Starting May 8, motor boaters heading to Blue Mesa Reservoir are going to find some severely restricted access and a new set of rules that are all part of an increased effort to keep some of the smallest invasive species from taking over the state’s largest lake. In a meeting with the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners Tuesday, April 28, Connie Rudd, superintendent of the Curecanti National Recreation Area, which surrounds the reservoir, said the measures will be strict, but they are necessary…

“The National Park Service is going to make some dramatic changes to operations at Blue Mesa Reservoir so that we can prevent the spread of [zebra and quagga mussels]. I really have it in my head that on my watch we’re going to avoid mussels,” said Rudd. “People keep saying it’s not if, but when and the horror of that possibility is coming closer.” The possibility that quagga mussels have already invaded the reservoir took a step closer to reality for Rudd and her staff in March when an analysis of water samples came back from two separate laboratories indicating that there was genetic material from a mussel in one of the samples.

“That could mean anything. It could mean that you had a dead immature young larval quagga mussel. So there is nothing to indicate that we’re infested with a breeding population in the reservoir,” said Ken Stahlnecker, chief of resource stewardship at the park. “But they did pick up enough of an indication that something was there at the time when the water was sampled.” He said the Park Service would do very intensive water testing this summer, since the sample to test positive was taken very early in the summer last year. All of the samples were taken after the suspect sample tested negative for any genetic or visual evidence of mussels…

Now the Park Service has nearly doubled the man-power dedicated to boat inspections to eight park rangers and an additional six inspectors from the state. Inspections will also be required as boats leave the water. The number of points where people can launch their boats is also being decreased to three, including Stevens Creek, Elk Creek and Lake Fork launch areas, which will all have inspection stations open between 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. All other launch areas will be closed to motorized boats. Non-motorized vessels will not be subject to the launch restrictions or inspection requirements. “There is only so much we can do. Non-motorized boats, like kayaks, tend not to sit in the water, when they could collect mussels. They also don’t have the space to store standing water that could transport larvae,” said Stahlnecker. “So we’re focusing our resources on the boats that pose the greatest risk.”
For more information on the changes in rules and access points at Blue Mesa Reservoir, visit http://www.nps.gov/cure or call (970) 641-2337.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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