HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4 News) – Boaters should expect long lines and plan for mandatory inspections this Fourth of July weekend when leaving Lake Powell. Officials from the Division of Wildlife Resources say the quagga mussel problem is growing increasingly serious.
Experts say very little can be done once the invasive species enter the water, coating the bottoms of lakes and reservoirs and destroying their ecosystems.
Quagga mussels invaded Lake Powell in 2012, and now there are billions of them, DWR officials said. This season, rising lake levels have left the mussels floating in the water, attaching to boats, kayaks, and anything that floats.
“It affects every aspect because then the smaller organisms go hungry because they don’t have the food that the mussels are eating, which then affects the fish,” Jake Webber said, an assistant park ranger at Sand Hollow State Park. “Everything can get thrown out of balance just by this one invasive specie.”
Quagga mussels are spread mostly by boats that haven’t been dried out and cleaned, as they like to attach in corners where it’s dark, Webber added.
Besides Lake Powell, boaters can head to several locations for mandatory inspections, including offshore Marina outside Bullfrog, Sand Hollow State Park, Yuba State Park, Utah Lake State Park, and a new mandatory inspection station in Kanab.
“They’re the ones that can prevent it,” Webber said. “They can do their own inspections on their boats and go online through the state’s website and certify themselves for those inspections.”
Webber said ultimately it’s the boater’s responsibility. Boaters can help speed up the process by checking for mussels or shells prior to arrival at the inspection station. They can pull all drain plugs and pump out ballast tanks prior to inspection.