SALT LAKE CITY — A total of 55 boaters received citations, and 322 vessels were decontaminated across Utah due to quagga mussel concerns over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, state conservation officers said Monday.
In all, 16,497 vessels were inspected for the invasive species between Friday and Monday, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Nearly a quarter of the inspections happened at Lake Powell alone, which is where Utah’s biggest quagga mussel problem is located. Inspections there resulted in 25 of the citations and 57 decontaminations.
The total number of citations is 10 higher than the holiday weekend last year, even though 3,588 fewer vessels were searched. DWR spokesperson Faith Heaton Jolley said COVID-19 concerns limited the number of technicians working during the weekend. Utah Division of State Parks and the National Park Service helped with inspections in some places, she added.
Statewide, Aquatic Invasive Species technicians inspected 16,497 boats and performed 322 hot-water decontaminations from Friday to Monday. DWR conservation officers issued approximately 55 citations. | https://t.co/2302XFsvvopic.twitter.com/OyOjq9Hv2U— UtahDWR (@UtahDWR) July 6, 2020
DWR Aquatic Invasive Species Operations Sgt. Krystal Tucker said that despite the fewer inspections over the weekend, there have been 179,304 total boat inspections to this point in the year — 43% more than at this point in 2019.
All boaters who travel past a checkpoint are required to stop for an inspection. There are more than 40 inspection stations across the state.
"Our goal is to stop the spread of invasive mussels in order to protect Utah's waters, so they remain accessible to the public and continue to provide incredible recreational opportunities for everyone," Tucker said in a statement issued Monday.
Quagga mussels are considered invasive species because they can alter food webs in bodies of water by removing plankton; they also clog water-intake pipes and other water infrastructure, which can cause extensive damage. They’re referred to as the "STD of the sea" because they are typically spread to other bodies of water by boats and other watercraft.
The agency also issued 54 citations for the same reason during the Memorial Day weekend in May.