Friday, May 29, 2020

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    Quagga inspections increase at Lake Powell

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    A person walks on invasive quagga mussels at Lake Powell. Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

    The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is boosting its inspection and decontamination capacity along the routes leaving Lake Powell to more efficiently meet boater needs. Additionally, law enforcement is increasing its efforts to identify violators and cite them when necessary, according to a statement from DWR.

    The quagga situation at Lake Powell has worsened this season. Rising lake levels have caused previously exposed mussels to dislodge and float in the water. This change means significantly more boats are leaving Lake Powell with mussels and shells onboard their vessels, sucked into sea strainers, on anchors and in compartments compared to last year. As a result, it’s critical all boats leaving the lake be inspected, officials say.

    DWR technicians and law enforcement are asking the public to be patient during the inspection process, especially during busy holidays and weekends.

    New resources

    DWR is redirecting resources to Lake Powell and other areas nearby by increasing staffing to help with inspections and hot water spray-downs to remove mussels. The spray-down minimizes biological risk by removing mussels and shells and allows for legal transportation of boats away from the lake, but is not a substitute for decontaminations. All decontamination and dry time requirements still apply.

    Beginning this weekend, a decontamination station will be available at a new mandatory inspection station in Kanab. Staffing capacity to handle more decontaminations is also being increased at state parks along the I-15 corridor, including Sand Hollow, Yuba and Utah Lake. Boaters can also expect a new mandatory inspection station to open in Hanksville in the coming weeks.

    DWR has made resources available to boost personnel at high priority reservoirs that Lake Powell boaters most frequently visit, including Willard Bay, Sand Hollow, Deer Creek and Jordanelle, according to DWR.

    What boaters should expect at Lake Powell

    Boaters should expect long lines during the holiday. Every boat needs to be inspected thoroughly. DWR technicians are regularly finding quagga mussels on and in boats, regardless of how long they have been on the water.

    Understand that the priority of the DWR and its technicians is to inspect and remove mussels, officials say. Inspections are taking longer with an increased number of boats coming off of Lake Powell with attached quagga mussels.

    Boaters can help speed up the process. While waiting, check boats for mussels or shells prior to arrival at the inspection station and remove anything suspect, including those in the sea strainer. Also, pull all drain plugs and pump out ballast tanks prior to inspection.

    Limited decontamination options are available at Lake Powell. DWR will offer them at other locations en route out of Lake Powell at no cost to boaters. Those locations include Offshore Marina outside Bullfrog, the Kanab mandatory inspection station, Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, Yuba State Park and Utah Lake State Park, according to DWR.

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