The last day for boating in Ridgway State Park is this Friday, Halloween. From November first all the way until March, the lake will be closed to motorized craft. As Kirstin Copeland, the park manager explains, it has less to do with the boat’s occupants, and more to do with their stowaways.
The boat ramp at Ridgway has a season to it after 2009 when we started needing to do education and inspection for aquatic invasive species, like zebra mussels," says Kirstin, "for budgetary reasons we could only staff those for the predominant use season, and not the fringe season."
Regulations and efforts to stop invasive species from getting into Colorado waters can be found all across the state. And for good reason.
"The mussels can have catastrophic effects on two things, primary. Because they're filter feeders, they remove one whole piece of the food chain, and therefore you start to loose species of everything above that. The fishery collapses," she says.
"The other thing is that they are extremely detrimental to infrastructure. Each female can produce up to a million offspring, and they can stack on top of each other and get up to a foot thick. Lakes that get infected with these end up spending millions of dollars."
Kirstin says that Colorado’s efforts have been working so far, with only one body of water that’s positive for the mussels, but it might be cleared as clean, soon.