Parks and Wildlife looking for funding for boat inspectors

Posted at 6:15 AM, May 25, 2017

DENVER -- Colorado Parks and Wildlife is scrambling to find funding for boat inspectors to help keep invasive species out of the state's lakes. 

Summer is just weeks away and people from around the state are already taking boats out. It's required for people to get their boats inspected before it goes into the water. Boat inspectors are in full swing ahead of the holiday weekend. 

"We're getting ready to fill up the engine compartment with 120-degree water," said inspector Chris Minerich as he inspected a boat. 

The hot water kills any larvae left by zebra or quagga mussels. Inspectors look at everything that touches water. 

"We also feel for bumps on the trailer because that's the first indication there might be zebra mussels or quagga mussels," Minerich said.

Those mussels can destroy the lake's ecosystem.

"We're talking about situations where water infrastructure in the millions of dollars can be totally ruined, " said Parks and Wildlife Spokesperson Jennifer Churchill.

The mussels latch onto boats. It costs the agency millions of dollars to keep inspectors at lakes. The cost for inspectors was supposed to be covered from a state severance tax that passed in legislation, but a federal lawsuit stopped that from happening. 

"Right now, luckily we are working with water providers. There's a lot of great partners out there that own the water that understand boating is still important as well," Churchill said. "So, they've helped pony up some of the money, we've tried to come up with some of the money."

Parks and Wildlife is looking at their options to find money to cover the cost of inspectors. One way is by increasing park fees.

Zebra mussels or quagga mussels are not present in Colorado's Lakes.