UTAH (ABC4) — Over 8,000 boats were inspected across Utah during Memorial Day weekend to prevent an invasive mussel species in Lake Powell from spreading to other bodies of water in the state.

Technicians with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah State Parks, Arizona Game and Fish Department and the National Park Service inspected 8,556 boats and conducted 103 decontaminations from Friday, May 26, to Monday, May 29. Of those numbers, 2,135 boat inspections and 39 decontaminations took place in the Lake Powell area.

Quagga mussels are the invasive species officials are on the lookout for. According to DWR, these mussels plug water lines and, if they get into the water delivery systems in Utah, it’s estimated that the state will have to spend millions of dollars to remove them annually.

Additionally, quagga mussels feed on plankton, which hurts other fish species by depleting their food supply. Even worse, these mussels will get into a boat’s engine cooling system, and once they do, they will damage the engine. Officials add that the sharp shells of dead mussels can also cut someone’s feet when they unknowingly walk on them.

Over the course of 2022, DWR officials performed 5,055 inspections and 55 decontaminations.

Conservation officers also issued about 52 citations and warnings for boatowners who have violated Utah laws regarding the spread of quagga mussels. They say most of the violations this year are due to:

“We are excited to have more boaters coming back to enjoy Utah’s waters this year,” DWR Aquatic Invasive Species Lt. Bruce Johnson said. “But we want to remind boaters to recreate responsibly, which includes knowing the rules and regulations for not inadvertently transporting aquatic invasive species around Utah. All watercraft leaving Lake Powell requires an exit inspection during the inspection station’s hours of operation.”

The watercraft in question includes kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and inflatable rafts. Johnson reminds the public to always clean, drain and dry their watercraft.

There are about 40 inspection stations located across the state. See the STD of the Sea website for more information.