ST. GEORGE — For the next several months, wildlife officials will be manning the St. George Port of Entry, checking any boats that enter Utah for quagga mussels.
If you’re traveling in Southern Utah this spring and summer, and transporting a boat north on Interstate 15, you will need to exit at the Port of Entry just south of St. George, and have your boat checked for quagga mussels.
After exiting the Interstate, technicians with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will ask you some questions to determine if your boat might be carrying quagga mussels. They’ll also inspect your boat, to see if any quagga mussels are attached to it and look for standing water.
“If you pass the port of entry, law enforcement officers will find your vehicle and pull you over,” said Jordan Nielson, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the DWR. “Don’t risk a fine; pull into the port of entry, and help us keep quagga mussels out of Utah.”
If you’ve been on a body of water that has quagga mussels, Utah law requires that the boat be decontaminated.
You can decontaminate your boat on your own by allowing it to completely dry out or by having a DWR technician decontaminate it with hot water. Simply put, there are three steps decontaminate your boat: Clean, drain and dry.
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Video courtesy of the DWR – learn more: STD of the Sea Web page
The ability to decontaminate boats at the port of entry is limited, Nielson said. If technicians can’t decontaminate your boat, they’ll direct you to a location where it can be done.
“Whether your boat is decontaminated at the port of entry, or at another location, it won’t cost you a thing,” Nielson said. “The decontamination is free.”
After the boat has been approved, technicians will place a tag indicating the boat has undergone the required inspection.
The station at the port of entry is staffed seven days a week, until fall.
“All of the reservoirs in the lower Colorado River drainage have quagga mussels in them,” Nielson said. “Having this station allows us to intercept boats that are coming from those waters.”
In Southern Utah, boats can be decontaminated at Sand Hollow State Park, located at 3351 South Sand Hollow Road in Hurricane, and operating daily from 7-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. For more information call 435-680-0715.
Why the concern?
There are many reasons why Utahns don’t want quagga mussels, or the quagga’s cousins, zebra mussels, brought into the state:
- Mussels can plug water lines, even very large diameter pipes
- If mussels get into water delivery systems in Utah, it will cost millions of dollars to try to remove them. Utahns would likely pay for the removal through higher utility bills.
- Mussels remove plankton from the water column, the same plankton that support Utah’s sport fish and native fish. The mussels could devastate fisheries in Utah.
- Mussels can damage your boat by attaching themselves to your boat’s hull and fouling the boat’s engine cooling system.
- When mussels die in large numbers, they stink, and their sharp shells can cut your feet as you walk along beaches where the mussels died.
- STD of the Sea website
- ON Kilter: Quagga mussels really are a problem, at what cost this risk?
- Letter to the Editor: Counter-opinion to ‘The goose that laid the golden quagga mussel’
- ON Kilter: The goose that laid the golden quagga mussels
- Water district says quagga mussels don’t jeopardize Lake Powell Pipeline
- Two Boats Decontaminated at Checkpoint, Work Continues to Keep Quagga Mussels out of Utah
- Deer Creek Reservoir adds to waters affected by mussels; boat decontamination required