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Quagga Mussels Suspected In Blue Mesa Reservoir

Curecanti National Recreation Area

National Park News

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) has declared Blue Mesa Reservoir a “suspect location” for infestation of invasive quagga mussels as the result of analyses received by the National Park Service.

This is the first water body in Colorado considered suspect but not contaminated under the new aquatic nuisance species regulations. This new classification is based on variability in testing results. Until more information can be gained from future sampling efforts, Blue Mesa will be considered a suspect location for mussel presence and treated as a containment reservoir.

New boating requirements will go into effect beginning May 8th.  All motorized vessels launching on Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, and Crystal Reservoirs will be required to undergo a prelaunch inspection to ensure that they are not at risk for carrying invasive mussels.  All motorized vessels will also be required to undergo an inspection when leaving the reservoirs to ensure that mussels will not be transported to other waters should the reservoirs be verified as contaminated.  If needed, boat decontamination will be required prior to launching and/or prior to departing the reservoirs. The current self-certification program will expire May 7th.  Hand-carried, non-motorized craft are considered very low risk for mussel transport and are not subject to inspection.

Inspection and decontamination stations are located at Steven’s Creek Campground, Elk Creek Marina and Lake Fork Marina and will operate daily between 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.  These launch facilities will close overnight. All other launch facilities will be closed to launching of motorized vessels.  Boats at slips or tied to shore may remain on the reservoir after 9 p.m. but must remain there overnight.

Elizabeth Brown, aquatic invasive species coordinator with the CDOW, reported that a state and federal initiative to gather more information on the presence of invasive mussels in Colorado detected evidence of quagga mussels in Blue Mesa Reservoir.  While quagga mussels were observed using both microscope and genetic analysis methods the detections were from different samples, confounding the identification and leaving managers with lingering questions about the true status of invasive mussels in the reservoir. 

Superintendent Connie Rudd wants boaters to know that park staff will provide the most efficient service possible. 

“We recognize the inconvenience to boaters and understand the need for fast turnaround,” she said.  “Our staff will ensure that boats will go through the inspection process as efficiently as possible.” 

Boaters can assist with the process by arriving at the reservoir with a clean, drained and dry vessel..

“The National Park Service and Colorado Division of Wildlife are committed to the protection of the significant fishery at Blue Mesa and ask for the public’s support in preventing mussels from colonizing this and downstream waters and reservoirs,” Rudd said.

Blue Mesa, located between Montrose and Gunnison, is Colorado's largest body of water.  The reservoir is part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area, attracting  approximately 1 million visitors annually.

For more information, visit CDOW website at http://wildlife.state.co.us/

For more information about mussel prevention operations at Curecanti, call Elk Creek Visitor Center at 970-641-2337 ext. 205 or visit http://www.nps.gov/cure .



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