New fees to protect Colorado waters from invasive mussels
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In order to keep destructive quagga and zebra mussels out of lakes and reservoirs in Colorado, boaters will help to provide crucial funding for the state’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Inspection Program starting in 2019.
“Colorado is one of just a few states in the country that doesn’t have an infestation of adult zebra or quagga mussels in any of its waters,” said Elizabeth Brown, invasive species program manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in a news release. “That’s directly attributable to our watercraft inspection and decontamination prevention program that’s been in place since 2008.”
Earlier this year, the Colorado General Assembly approved a bill that requires those who operate motorboats and sailboats on waters of the state to purchase an ANS stamp annually. The cost of the stamp for Colorado residents is $25. For boaters coming to Colorado from other states or provinces, the stamp will cost $50.
The stamp fee is separate from the annual boat registration permit but will be included in the cost of registration for in-state boats. The stamp and registration is currently available for residents at Parks and Wildlife offices and the agency website. Boaters coming from other states can buy their stamp online, at CPW offices or at any sales location beginning Jan. 1.
Since the ANS program started in Colorado in 2008, Parks and Wildlife staff and other entities have completed 4.4 million boat inspections, more than 90,000 boats have been subject to decontamination procedures and 195 vessels with confirmed mussel infestations have been intercepted and decontaminated. The threat of boats transporting mussels also appears to be growing. This year, 51 boats with adult mussels were found at inspection stations, far more than the previous record of 26 boats in one year.
The new fee will cover half the cost of the inspection program. The remainder will be paid by Parks and Wildlife and a variety of stakeholders, including federal agencies, local governments, water providers and other partners.
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