Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill this week that provides funding for a state program to prevent the spread of invasive species into Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs. The pressure is still on local authorities to cover most of the cost of boat inspections.
The new law provides $2.4 million for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s efforts to keep the state’s lakes clear of aquatic nuisance species. The concern is over zebra and quagga mussels, which are not native to this area and reproduce quickly, causing damage to both ecosystems and infrastructure, like dams.
The bill requires Colorado residents to purchase a $25 stamp for their boats; that fee is doubled for out-of-state boaters. It also increases fines for those who skip inspections or knowingly bring the invasive mussels into the state.
Last summer, the Ruedi Water and Power Authority stepped up its efforts and tripled the amount of money it spends inspecting boats entering Ruedi Reservoir. Mark Fuller is executive director of that agency; he said the new legislation will help ensure continued money from the state for grants and training, but most of the cost for Ruedi’s program will still need to come from local sources.