The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is launching a new campaign to help stop the spreading of invasive mussels in Utah lakes.
In the new campaign the DWR is asking people to “practice safe boating” by cleaning, draining, and drying their boats to prevent the spread of the “STD of the Sea.” Jordan Nielson is the Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator at the DWR. He says if the mussels spread it could severely damage the state’s infrastructure used to bring water to population centers.
“Our division of water resources has estimated that just maintaining infrastructure such as dams, would cost the state of Utah about $22 million a year," he says. "That’s not taking into account pipelines and canals.”
Nielson says the DWR will be stepping up enforcement measures, particularly at and around Lake Powell. If a boater were caught with a mussel on their boat they would be charged with a class A misdemeanor and a fine up to $2,500. Nielson says he’s optimistic that they can make a difference, but it’s ultimately up to the boaters.
“They can either be a part of the solution by going through cleaning and draining and drying their boat, or they can be a part of the problem. And I think most boaters like the places that they go boat enough that they prefer to be part of the solution,” Nielson says.
Jeremy Christensen uses his boat in the Pineview Reservoir. He says he doesn’t have a problem with an increase in the checkpoints or the extra work required to prevent the spread of mussels.
“I mean it helps everybody, from the standpoint of fishing and everything else that goes on," he says." So you have to stop and wait for 10 minutes, big deal. It’s not a problem.”
The DWR also recommends that boats that leave the water be left out for at least 7 days before entering the water again. If that timetable doesn’t work, the DWR is also offering professional hot water decontamination services for free at all state parks associated with a lake.