LAKE POWELL — Forty-four citations were issued and 98 boats had to be decontaminated due to the threat of spreading quagga mussels in Lake Powell over the holiday weekend, state wildlife officials said.
In all, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officers inspected more than 2,700 boats at Lake Powell from Friday through Monday, according to DWR Lt. Scott Dalebout.
Quagga mussels are considered an invasive species by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The species, which was first discovered in the U.S. in 1989, alter food webs in water bodies by removing plankton. They also clog water-intake pipes and other water infrastructure, according to the department’s website.
National Park Service officials said quagga mussels were found above and below Glen Canyon Dam. That meant all boaters were required to clean, drain and dry their watercraft after being in the water.
According to Dalebout, Lake Powell is the only waterbody in Utah where quagga mussels are currently located. However, the mussel can easily spread to other bodies of water through boats with mussels on them, which is why DWR officers were assigned to check boats.
.@UtahDWR employees inspected 2,766 boats over Labor Day weekend at Lake Powell. 😱In 100+ degree heat. 🔥Until almost 10 p.m. at night. 😴Every boater should clean, drain and dry to help prevent quagga mussels from spreading in Utah. pic.twitter.com/C0D9pyx1Tz— Faith Heaton Jolley (@FaithHJolley) September 3, 2019
“Our teams have worked extremely hard to decrease the chance of invasive mussels spreading to other water bodies,” he said in a statement. “We’ve also kept some of our inspection stations open longer to check boats coming off the lake after dark, which would never have been inspected otherwise.”
Quagga mussels were found on boats headed to Hyrum and Willard Bay state parks in June 2018. Earlier that year, state officials declared Deer Creek Reservoir in Wasatch County free of quagga mussels after a three-year struggle.