New traffic control devices helps protect high lakes from invasive aquatic species

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New traffic control measures have been installed on Lake Granby and Shadow Mountain Reservoir boat ramps as part of a collaborative effort to protect Grand County’s lakes and waterways from invasive aquatic species.

Traffic gates and spike strips were installed at the U.S. Forest Service’s Green Ridge, Stillwater and Sunset boat ramps through an interagency agreement that provided nearly $124,000 to improve infrastructure at the ramps, insuring that all motorized boats are inspected for nuisance species before entering the water.

Destructive non-native species such as quagga and zebra mussels have invaded waterways from the Great Lakes to Lake Powell where they’ve had catastrophic impacts on ecosystems – clogging intakes and pipes, encrusting docks and beaches, and competing with native species for resources. These mussels are transported to new areas by trailered boats that move from impacted waterways without being properly cleaned.

Due to rigorous management, Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs have remained free of invasive adult mussels. However, after quagga mussel larvae were discovered in the nearby Green Mountain Reservoir in 2017, cooperating agencies responsible for managing the Arapaho National Recreation Area’s lakes and infrastructure have ramped up efforts to keep Colorado mussel free.

Ensuring that Colorado’s “Great Lakes Region” continues to provide world-class fishing and boating, and that its waters remain pure and mussel free long into the future requires the collaborative effort of the handful of federal and state agencies and local municipalities and businesses that operate the in area.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District manages recreation on and around the Arapaho National Recreation Area, including the public boat ramps, picnic areas and campgrounds, as well as cultural and natural resources across the entire recreation area. The Bureau of Reclamation runs the reservoir infrastructure that provides water and electricity to communities across Colorado. And, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is responsible for licensing boats and fishing as well as protecting Colorado’s waterways from invasive species.

As part of this effort, Colorado Parks and Wildlife provides inspectors at designated boat ramps during the boating season from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Designated boat launches include Green Ridge, Sunset and Stillwater as well as Indian Peaks Marina, Highland Marina, Trail Ridge Marina and Beacon Landing Marina.

When the inspectors aren’t present, boaters can now leave the water via the newly constructed one-way exit public boat ramps while the new traffic control gates prevent boats from entering the water after hours.

For more information on Colorado’s aquatic nuisance species prevention program as well as inspection hours at ramps across the state, visit https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/BoatInspection.aspx.

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