Ruedi boaters to face roving inspectors | VailDaily.com

Ruedi boaters to face roving inspectors

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesA sign erected last year near the Ruedi Creek boat ramp remains in place. Another, much smaller sign is located on the ramp itself, but there are plans to boost the signage this summer, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
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BASALT, Colorado ” Ruedi Reservoir boaters won’t entirely escape inspections for invasive mussels this summer, but the full-blown inspection efforts and limitations on boat launching that are in place elsewhere in Colorado won’t be in effect at Ruedi.

Rather, Ruedi, located east of Basalt, will see periodic inspections via one of several roving inspection and decontamination stations the Colorado Division of Wildlife will employ this summer. When the station is not operating at the Ruedi Creek boat ramp, on the west end of the reservoir, boaters will be on the honor system to make sure they’re complying with new state regulations aimed at halting the spread of zebra and quagga mussels.

Zebra mussels and their cousin, the quagga mussel, are voracious, freshwater mollusks that cause costly damage, attaching themselves to boat hulls, motors and water-system intakes, clogging pumps, pipes and outdoor motors. They can also upset native ecosystems.

Boaters can spread zebra mussel eggs and larvae without knowing it, and a single breeding pair of zebra mussels can result in a huge colony, say the experts. Adult mussels are typically about the size of a fingernail.

Signs put in place last season to caution boaters about the mussels will be beefed up at Ruedi this year, and brochures will again be available to explain the steps to prevent introducing mussels to the reservoir, said Mike Kenealy, recreation special uses coordinator for the White River National Forest.

In addition, gates and barriers will be installed in the ramp area to funnel traffic when the inspection station is present, he said.

“We’re kind of just promoting the theme that boaters should expect to be inspected this year,” said Jerry Neal, public information officer for the Division of Wildlife.

How frequently the roving station will be at Ruedi is difficult to say, but busy weekends are likely to be targeted, Kenealy predicted.

“They’re basically going to be moving to different locations almost daily, Neal said. “It kind of depends on where we see the need.”

A reservoir experiencing heavy boater activity may see the station remain in place for several days, he said.

New regulations this year require all out-of-state boaters to have their boat and trailer inspected before launching into any lake or waterway in Colorado, Neal said. In-state boaters who leave Colorado and return must also seek out an inspection. Also, any boat that has been in any Colorado reservoir where mussels have been detected must be inspected before launching at a new location.

The new regulations are aimed at trailored watercraft. Hand-launched crafts such as canoes and kayaks are not considered a high risk for spreading mussels and may launch without an inspection.

“We’re confident once people know the new regulations they’re going to abide by them and protect our reservoirs,” Neal said. “Boaters were extremely cooperative last year.”

If a vessel is clean and dry, an inspection will require 3 to 5 minutes or less, he said. Decontamination involves power-washing the boat with extremely hot water to remove and kill the organisms.

In the White River National Forest, Dillon Reservoir near Frisco already had mandatory inspections and limited boat-launching hours in place last year; this year, similar restrictions will be in place at Green Mountain Reservoir, south of Kremmling.

Mandatory inspections and limited launch hours will also be in place for the first time at Turquoise Lake near Leadville and at Twin Lakes, located east of Aspen over Independence Pass. The inspections will take place from Memorial Day to Labor Day, said Jon Morrissey, Forest Service district ranger in Leadville. In addition, one of two ramps at each of those reservoirs will be closed, he said.

For information on what the DOW is calling aquatic nuisance species, new boating regulations, a list of state reservoirs where the mussels have already been detected and the restrictions in place at each Colorado reservoir, go to http://www.wildlife.state.co.us ” the DOW’s website.


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