2018 #COleg: Interim Water Resources Review Committee votes to carry the “Mussels-Free Colorado Act”

Quaggas on sandal at Lake Mead

From ColoradoPolitics.com (Marianne Goodland):

The program, authorized in 2008, has faced cutbacks in recent years just as mussels and their larvae are increasingly being found on boats entering Colorado reservoirs.

According to Doug Krieger, aquatic section manager for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW), about a half million inspections are done every year at Colorado’s 80 reservoirs. The state was able to declare itself mussel-free in January, but that victory was short-lived, according to Krieger, when mussel larvae were detected in August at Green Mountain Reservoir in Summit County. Seven other Colorado reservoirs that previously detected mussel larvae have since been declared mussel-free, including Pueblo Reservoir, which had the worst problem in the state with mussel larvae between 2008 and 2011.

Unfortunately, the inspection program at Green Mountain has been cut back about 35 percent, Krieger told the committee, due to funding cuts. That means a shorter inspection season and shorter hours for those inspections. And that can lead to boaters who avoid inspections, whether putting in boats on private land around the reservoir or at the public ramps when inspections aren’t available.

At the same time, the discovery of mussel larvae at the reservoir means boats entering and exiting the reservoir are now subject to what Krieger called “high-risk” inspections and decontamination.

Green Mountain isn’t the only reservoir that has seen mussel activity; Krieger said there were seven other reservoirs this year with mussel detection.

Boats at state reservoirs are inspected and decontaminated, if necessary, at no charge, Krieger told Colorado Politics. Mussel larvae can attach itself to anything that gets wet, whether it’s the boat, anchors and anchor ropes, fishing gear, boat trailers or outboard or inboard engines. In one case, in southwestern Colorado, a boat came in heavily contaminated with mussels and their larvae, and it took weeks to completely decontaminate the boat, according to Doug Vilsack, the legislative liaison for the Department of Natural Resources. But because there’s no basis in law to recoup those costs, the boat owner was charged nothing for that decontamination.

The bill the committee decided to sponsor Tuesday would do two things: require boaters to obtain a stamp for their boats, and allow the division to recoup the costs of decontaminating boats that come in with mussels or their larvae.

Western Govs. request help from feds for fighting quaggas

Zebra and Quagga Mussels

From The New Jersey Herald (Keith Ridler):

The Western Governors’ Association on Thursday sent a letter urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to put in place by spring 2018 controls to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels.

The governors are asking that federal agencies conduct mandatory inspections and decontamination of boats leaving infected water bodies.

The governors say they’re particularly concerned about the mussels reaching the Columbia River Basin, Lake Tahoe, and the Colorado River Basin above Lake Powell.

#ColoradoRiver: Lake Powell quagga infestation update #COriver

While Lake Powell entered 2002, when this photo was taken, with a pretty healthy amount of water stored, by 2004 the bathtub rings had expanded as drought deepened. Photo/U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

From Cronkite News (Kianna Gardner) via the Arizona Daily Sun:

The adult quagga mussel finding [on March 3, 2013], coming less than a year after [veligers] were first spotted, marked the end of more than a decade of attempts to keep the invasive species from taking over Lake Powell and cued the beginning of a new fight.

Experts deem it impossible to entirely eradicate the mussels from Lake Powell, a tourist destination that spans Utah and Arizona. The mussels latch on to the walls of Glen Canyon Dam and the hundreds of boats skimming the lake’s waters. If the mussels could not be removed from the lake, the experts concluded, at least they might contain the threat to keep it from spreading to other waters.

Clumps of quagga mussels damage the dam’s water flow, undercut an ecosystem for other aquatic species, cling to boat engines and cost millions of dollars to handle.

“It was a huge responsibility and honor to try and protect this lake. It is still a huge responsibility and honor to contain the quagga mussels here,” said Colleen Allen. She holds a distinctive title as a leader in the quagga mussel incursion: aquatic invasive species coordinator for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

The quagga mussel, a freshwater mollusk that likely was unwittingly brought into Lake Powell by boat, have proven to be a small but mighty foe. Less than three years after finding that mussel, the invasion had spread throughout most of the 186 miles of Lake Powell. Today, quagga mussels can be found in every canyon crevice, Glen Canyon officials said.

@CFWEWater Webinar: Aquatic Nuisance Species The Threat and Solutions

Click here for all the inside skinny and to register:

On Tuesday, October 24th, from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, the Colorado Water Congress and the Colorado Foundation for Water Education will host a webinar on the threat of aquatic nuisance species, specifically zebra and quagga mussels, to our waterways and delivery systems in Colorado.

Aquatic nuisance species continues to be a hot topic for the water community, but we need to reach beyond our own network when communicating about this looming threat to our pristine waterways. Join us to learn about the threat these invasive mussels pose, and how Colorado is working to educate the public and our policy makers so we can maintain healthy waterways and infrastructure.

Speakers:

  • Mike Preston | Dolores Water Conservancy District
  • Ken Curtis | Dolores Water Conservancy District
  • Doug Vilsack | Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Doug Krieger | Dept. of Natural Resources
  • Registration is FREE! Learn more and register here.

    Durango: Russian Olive mitigation

    Russian Olive

    From The Durango Herald (Mia Rupani):

    Mountain Studies Institute and Southwest Conservation Corps continue to wage war against the Russian olive, an invasive species that chokes out native trees and degrades the quality of the watershed.

    Last year, MSI was awarded a $195,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and an additional $52,000 from Colorado Parks and Wildlife for a three-year Russian olive-removal project.

    Removal efforts continued Saturday morning at Animas Valley Elementary and Christ the King Lutheran Church with two saw crews from SCC, and help from Durango Daybreak Rotary Club.

    MSI’s Amanda Kuenzi said the project specifically targets Russian olive trees on private land…

    Originally introduced for ornamental landscaping, the plants are native to East Asia and Russia, and consume nearly 75 gallons of water per day.

    They are considered a “List B noxious weed,” which requires local governments to manage their spread under Colorado state law…

    “Russian olive reduce wildlife habitat, interfere with nutrient cycling and outcompete native species,” Kuenzi said. “The wetlands have been deteriorating in the West because of irrigation practices and water storage. We have to protect these important ecosystems.”

    She said crews will be working on removal efforts through mid-November with about 60 private landowners throughout the Animas River Valley.

    On Saturday, the Rotary Club collected wood from the removal effort for its firewood-distribution project.

    South Platte Forum, October 25-26, 2017

    Click here for all the inside skinny and to register:

    The South Platte Forum was initiated in 1989 to provide an avenue for a timely, multi-disciplinary exchange of information and ideas important to resource management in the South Platte River Basin. Its stated mandates are:

  • to enhance the effective management of natural resources in the South Platte River Basin by promoting coordination between state, federal and local resource managers, and private enterprise, and
  • to promote the interchange of ideas among disciplines to increase awareness and understanding of South Platte River Basin issues and public values.
  • The Platte River is formed in western Nebraska east of the city of North Platte, Nebraska by the confluence of the North Platte and the South Platte Rivers, which both arise from snowmelt in the eastern Rockies east of the Continental Divide. Map via Wikimedia.

    #Colorado congressional delegation sends quagga SOS to Zinke et al.

    Green Mountain Reservoir via Reclamation.

    From The Denver Post (Jesse Paul):

    Nearly every member of Colorado’s congressional delegation has signed a letter to the Trump administration asking for help with the emerging crisis of tiny invasive mussel larvae found in Green Mountain Reservoir…

    “We urge you to respond rapidly, deploy available resources and work with the state and local communities to prevent this initial detection from growing into a full infestation,” the delegation wrote to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “A rapid response is critical during the window of opportunity immediately after the detection of invasive species.”

    The letter, dated Thursday, was signed by Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, as well as Reps. Diana DeGette, Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn, Jared Polis, Ed Perlmutter and Mike Coffman.

    Rep. Ken Buck, a Weld County Republican, did not sign the letter.

    “As a headwater state that is currently free of adult invasive mussels, the detection of invasive mussel larva poses a tangible threat to our economy,” the letter said. “The Department of Interior has recognized the importance of preventing invasive mussel infestations in western headwater states, such as Montana where larva was identified in late 2016 and resources were deployed to the Columbia River Basin.”

    Zinke is from Montana.

    Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras said his agency has drawn more than 100 samples from Green Mountain Reservoir since the larvae were detected. “All of these samples have come back negative for all aquatic nuisance species including quagga mussels.”

    […]

    Tiny mussel larvae, known as veligers, have been found in Colorado before. Lake Pueblo, for instance, tested positive for them in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

    Biologists, however, have never found an adult zebra or quagga mussel in any Colorado lake or reservoir.

    Lake Powell, which straddles Utah and Arizona, has been ravaged by a mussel infestation since veligers were detected in late 2012 and four adult mussels were found on a boat that had been pulled for service in March 2013.

    Boats and other watercraft can quickly spread the invasive species. Colorado wildlife officials have said the veligers found in Green Mountain Reservoir likely hitched in on a boat that had been in water outside the state.

    State lawmakers during the past legislative session cited the threat of invasive mussels as one reason why they voted down a proposal to allow sea planes on Colorado’s bodies of water, saying they could act as long-range vehicles for the species.

    Quaggas on sandal at Lake Mead