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Invasive mussels no longer present in Colorado waters, CPW says

The mussels are harmful to Colorado's ecosystem
Invasive mussels no longer present in Colorado, CPW says
Posted at 4:36 PM, Jan 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 19:46:00-05

PUEBLO — Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are celebrating a major accomplishment after learning they’ve successfully pushed out an invasive species that gave boaters and wildlife officials headaches for years.

CPW says its latest tests all came back negative for the presence of zebra and quagga mussels in Green Mountain Reservoir--the last body of water they believed the mussels to still be present in the state.

The mussels have also been found in Pueblo Reservoir in the past.

Being a Park Ranger is not a job Joseph Portteus takes for granted.

“I mean, the place you get to do it, just look around,” Portteus said. “My favorite part is always the people.”

And at Lake Pueblo State Park, this past summer brought plenty of people.

“We had over two million visitors,” he said.

But there’s one thing they all managed to leave behind.

“All the managed waters in Colorado are now negative for Zebra and Quagga mussels,” he said.

They’re an invasive species, and they had no business being in our lakes.

“They can affect the ecosystem and take nutrients out of the water which can take away from fish habitats,” he said.

Over half a century ago, they somehow managed to find their way from Europe and Asia, into the Great Lakes. Then they spread like a virus.

“When boaters from the Great Lakes come out here, they can be transported in standing water,” Portteus said.

In recent years the mussels invaded both Green Mountain and Pueblo reservoirs.

“Once they’re in it’s really difficult to get rid of them,” Portteus said.

But Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials were determined.

“You’ll be inspected when you come to the lake regardless of whether you think you have them or not,” he said.

Inspectors look over every boat before going into the water, which requires a keen eye.

“A full grown adult is about the size of the finger nail on your pinky finger,” he said.

Even after a year of record attendance--

“It was so much busier out here,” Portteus said.

--The waters of Pueblo Reservoir, and all the other waters in our state, are finally free of these unwelcome guests.

“That’s really why we don’t have them in any of the bodies in Colorado is because our inspection program is so proficient,” he said.