Summit County: Officials cut boat launching at reservoir |

Summit County: Officials cut boat launching at reservoir

Bob Berwyn
Summit County, Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” The U.S. Forest Service will tighten access to Green Mountain Reservoir this summer to prevent an invasion of alien mussels.

Effective immediately, the lake bed and low-water beaches will be closed to all vehicles.

Boat launching will be subject to checkpoint inspections to comply with new state regulations.

“Access must be narrowed down to limited locations to inspect and treat, if necessary, boats before entering the lake,” said Jan Cutts, District Ranger on the Dillon Ranger District.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife says the mussels could threaten fisheries and operations of Green Mountain Dam, a key link in the Upper Colorado River storage and distribution system.

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State biologists said Green Mountain Reservoir is at a high risk for invasion. The pests multiply quickly and cause millions of dollars in damage to water-management structures, boats and permanently changing native fisheries. Evidence of these non-native pests has already been found in lakes near Granby and a few other locations around the state.

“No trailer launches are allowed right now,” said Forest Service recreation specialist Ken Waugh. Smaller vessels like canoes can still be carried down to the water from vehicles parked above the high-water line, Waugh said.

“We understand that this will alter the manner in which some visitors have used Green Mountain in the past,” said Cutts. “We hope they understand that these actions are necessary to protect this wonderful place for them to continue using into the future.”

The nearest mussels have been found in Grand Lake, just north of the Summit County line.

“We have a lot of common customers,” Waugh said.

Normally, fishermen would be preparing for beach launches and setting up trailer camps at the beaches along the south end of the reservoir. This year they’ll have to wait until the Heeney Marina opens on May 15. The marina will be the only authorized checkpoint at the start of the season.

Colorado cracked down last year, taking a no-tolerance approach that has been effective in other states. The tiny shellfish like to hitch rides on the hulls of boats. They’ve spread rapidly across the country in the past 10 years, causing millions of dollars of damage.

Cleaning and disinfecting boats is the best way to prevent the spread of mussels, but it requires manpower and equipment. The Forest Service hopes to open several additional checkpoints in collaboration with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the division of wildlife.

In a release, Forest Service officials said, “Effective immediately, vehicle access to the lakebed will be closed. Vehicle access will be available above the high-water line once traffic controls are in place. No trailered watercraft will be allowed on the reservoir until watercraft inspection and disinfection stations can be established. It is hoped that the WID facilities and staffing will be operating by Memorial Day weekend.”

Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Dillon Ranger District office at (970) 468-5400.

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