11,403 boats inspected for quagga mussels during Memorial Day weekend

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. — Law enforcement officers and technicians for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources across the state had a busy Memorial Day weekend, working to prevent invasive quagga mussels from spreading.

Statewide, Aquatic Invasive Species technicians inspected 11,403 boats and performed 171 decontaminations from Friday to Monday. During the 2020 Memorial Day weekend, 10,771 inspections were performed statewide, and 226 boats were decontaminated.

Technicians inspected a total of 3,691 boats and decontaminated 78 boats at stations in the Lake Powell area from Friday to Monday. Last Memorial Day weekend, 4,756 boats were inspected in the Lake Powell area and 144 were decontaminated.

“The new dip tank was getting used by boaters who have boats with more complex systems over the weekend, and it is definitely proving its value in helping us more quickly and efficiently decontaminate these watercraft,” DWR Aquatic Invasive Species Operations Lt. Bruce Johnson said. “Boating numbers were lower than this time last year, likely due to the lower water levels at Lake Powell, but it is still very important for every boater who does visit Lake Powell to make sure they aren’t transporting invasive quagga mussels when they leave.”

Stateline Launch Ramp at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Stateline Launch Ramp at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

In the Lake Powell area, DWR conservation officers issued 114 citations to boaters. Seventy-nine of the violations were due to non-resident boaters failing to complete the mandatory education course and fee payment, which went into effect last year. Twenty-four of the violations were due to boaters failing to stop at a mandatory inspection station. Statewide, DWR conservation officers cited 138 people who violated the Utah laws put in place to prevent the spread of invasive mussels.

“In order to keep our Utah waters mussel free, we need public support and compliance,” DWR Aquatic Invasive Species Operations Sgt. Krystal Tucker said. “Individuals with any watercraft who are traveling past an open inspection station are required to stop so our technicians can conduct an inspection for quagga mussels. Our goal is to stop the spread of invasive mussels in order to protect Utah’s waters, so they remain accessible to the public and continue to provide incredible recreational opportunities for everyone.”

“We also had a few people who tried to take mussel-encrusted souvenirs home with them after leaving Lake Powell,” Johnson said. “This is illegal. Whether it’s in your hand or attached to your boat, you can’t transport these aquatic invasive species. Please leave them at Lake Powell.”

There are over 40 inspection stations located at various waterbodies and along highways throughout Utah.

Why quagga mussels are bad:

  • They plug water lines, even lines that are large in diameter
  • If they get into water delivery systems in Utah, it will cost millions of dollars annually to remove them and keep the pipes free, which can result in higher utility bills
  • They remove plankton from the water, which hurts fish species in Utah
  • Mussels get into your boat’s engine cooling system. Once they do, they’ll foul the system and damage the engine
  • When mussels die in large numbers, they stink and the sharp shells of dead mussels also cut your feet as you walk along the beaches

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