Motorized boats banned from Lemon Reservoir to combat invasive species #coleg

Lemon Dam, Florida River

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

On Thursday, the U.S. Forest Service announced the ban of motorized boats on Lemon Reservoir, which joins two other Southwest Colorado lakes – Totten and Narraguinnep – that were closed this year because of the threat of invasive species…

While some Southwest Colorado lakes offer a boat inspection, the Forest Service said the resources are unavailable to fund and staff an aquatic nuisance species inspection station at Lemon Reservoir.

Motorized boats in recent years have become significant transmitters of invasive species – such as the New Zealand mud snail, Asian carp and rusty crayfish, among other plants and animals – into uninfected waters.

But the main culprits, microscopic zebra and quagga mussels, can quickly infest a waterway, clog reservoir infrastructure and endanger other aquatic life. Costs to treat an infestation, the Forest Service said, are expensive.

According to the Forest Service, the decision to close Lemon Reservoir to motorized boat use was made after local irrigators, recreationists, the Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, La Plata County commissioners and the city of Durango showed significant support…

The city of Durango pulls its main water supply from the Florida River, out of a reservoir downstream of Lemon Dam. If mussels were introduced into Lemon Reservoir, it wouldn’t take long for the city to feel the impact, Salka said…

According to the water district’s website, releases from Lemon Dam, about 14 miles northeast of Durango, provide irrigation water for nearly 19,500 acres.

The Forest Service said a barrier and sign will be installed at the Miller Creek boat ramp, and the closure will be enforced by the agency seven days a week.

Invasive aquatic species, and finding the money for inspections, are increasingly becoming a problem in Southwest Colorado.

At Vallecito Reservoir, a popular boating and fishing destination 20 miles northeast of Durango, the boating season this summer was in jeopardy when Colorado Parks and Wildlife said it was unable to fund an inspection station…

As a result, businesses and community members dependent on the tourism dollars generated from lake users raised $10,500 to help cover operating costs for the inspection station, Beck said.

The effort was set to raise more, Beck said, when CPW last week said it could cover the remaining $43,500 needed to fund a full season of operation, which starts May 1.

Beck added that managers were forced to close boat access on the north end of the Vallecito Lake after several incidents where people illegally put their boats into the reservoir.

Beck said launching a boat illegally could result in a $75 fine, but the agency has “tried not to bite down that way.”

[…]

He said CPW proposed a bill in the state Legislature this year that would require boaters to purchase a $25 aquatic nuisance species sticker that would fund an inspection station program throughout the state.

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