BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
WOODS CROSS — Southern Utah’s Lake Powell is a popular place to stay and play during Memorial Day weekend.
If you own a boat, heed a small piece of good advice from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources: clean your boat, and do it well.
Researchers have found quagga (zebra) mussels, an invasive species of major concern in the U.S., and they are advising people who use their boats in Lake Powell to thoroughly check for the species and clean their boats as best as possible.
So far, searchers have found 115 of these mussels attached to boats in the lake, and more are likely to be found as the weather warms up.
The division’s Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Larry Dalton said maintaining a boat and all its equipment is important during this time of year.
“No matter where you boat in Utah, it’s absolutely vital that you clean, drain and dry your boat,” said Dalton in a press release. “Any equipment that comes in contact with the water should also be cleaned thoroughly.”
The mussels have been slowly making their way into Utah waters, said Dalton.
Main concerns about the mussels growing in Utah waters are that quagga mussels can plug water lines, remove plankton from water columns (plankton supports the sport and native fish in Utah’s waters), and damage a boat’s hull and engine cooling system.
Once the species has established itself in a body of water it becomes difficult, expensive and sometimes impossible to remove, said Dalton.
In order to not transfer any of these species of mussels to other lakes in Utah, Dalton recommends a three-step decontamination process. First, remove all mud, plants and mussels from the boat. Then, drain all the water, live bait wells, ballast tanks and lower engine units.
The third and final step is to dry the boat at home or to have it serviced at a professional decontamination station.
The process has become mandatory for those who have been to Lake Powell, said Dalton.
“If you’ve been boating on Lake Powell, you cannot launch your boat at any other body of water in Utah until you’ve completed all three steps,” he said.
Besides Lake Powell, the only other body of water in Utah known to be infected is Sand Hollow Reservoir.
Specifics are available at wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/decontaminate.html.
In Idaho, state officials are concerned that the mussels could get into Bear Lake, another popular vacation spot for the people Davis County. Just a few could lead to a population explosion that could cost millions.