Funding in jeopardy for invasive species prevention in Colorado

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DENVER -- For years, Colorado has been in a battle to prevent aquatic nuisance species, like zebra and quagga mussels, from entering waterways.

Money from oil and gas severance taxes have funded the prevention program, but that will end after this year. So Colorado Parks and Wildlife is focused on finding a new way to fund future prevention.

“We’re going to look at all of our options,” spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said. “We’ll work with the federal government, with partners, and other folks that are involved with this issue. We’ll be on the forefront to make sure we are getting in front of this. We don’t want to fall behind.”

Falling behind could prove to be very costly. Aquatic nuisance species have taken over water ways east of Colorado, damaging infrastructure, wildlife and aquatic activities.

“In places back east where this has been going on for years, there is tons of damage that has happened to water ways and infrastructure, piping and things like that,” Churchill said. “It can cause millions of dollars worth of damage to places that rely on water. Waterways that are critical to providing water for uses like recreational and also showers and bath tubs.”

Parks and Wildlife is optimistic the program will find new funding, but are also asking people to be aware and be engaged.

“At this point, I wouldn’t be worried that it’s going away,” Churchill said. “It’s important to all of us. We recognize the problem we’ve seen already. We have the luxury of understanding what it has done out east, so we can look at that and understand what we could be facing in Colorado.”

All boats must be inspected before entering a waterway at any state park. Boat inspection stations are located at all state parks. You can also get a boat inspection at several locations in the metro area.