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State ramps up boat inspections to keep invasive mussels out of lakes, reservoirs

DENVER -- Summer has arrived and boating season is ramping up.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding owners to clean boats before they go on the state's lakes and reservoirs.

Officials say they are on record pace for the most boats inspected with quagga and zebra mussels.

Boats need to be inspected before being launched at places such as Horsetooth, Boulder and Chatfield reservoirs. Starting Friday, inspections will be needed at Pinewood Reservoir.

The tiny mussels can reproduce very quickly, clogging infrastructure and devastating waterways.

Eleven infested boats have been intercepted this year. Most belong to Colorado residents who take them out of state only to return home with the mussels attached.

"They can attach to infrastructure in waterways and pretty much shut them down," Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said.

"And so we're talking about millions of dollars in infrastructure to move water around the state for various things we need so these things can be very dangerous."

To maintain recreation in the state, owners need to get boats inspected to prevent the mussels from spreading.

"I'd just say it's important," boat owner Paul Voss said. "You need to clean dry your boat and follow the procedures."

State regulations require boaters to clean, drain and dry boats when entering and leaving any lake and reservoir.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers free inspections.