The State Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Act was passed by the General Assembly in May 2008. The Act defines ANS as, "exotic or nonnative aquatic wildlife or any plant species that have been determined to pose a significant threat to the aquatic resources or water infrastructure of the state." It makes it illegal to possess, import, export, ship, transport, release, plant, place, or cause an ANS to be released. The Act allocated funding to ANS programs in both the DOW and Parks, which are now one agency, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).
The Act provides authority to qualified peace officers to inspect and, if necessary, decontaminate or quarantine watercraft for ANS. It also provides authority for trained authorized agents to inspect and decontaminate watercraft for ANS.
The Parks Board passed regulations required by the Act on February 20, 2009. The rules require mandatory watercraft inspection and if necessary decontamination of all boats coming in from out of state, leaving known positive waters in Colorado, and those entering a high risk water where inspections and decontaminations are required by the managing agency. The rules have set the standard for watercraft inspection, decontamination, impoundment, sampling, monitoring, identification and reporting.
The State Zebra and Quagga Mussel Management Plan (ZQM Plan) was drafted in 2009. The backbone of the ZQM Plan includes containment and prevention through watercraft inspection and decontamination, sampling and monitoring, education and outreach, communications and information, and applied research.
CPW provides ANS support to all waters of the state, and to all inspection stations, regardless of jurisdiction. Services provided include:
- Site-specific planning
- Training and certification
- Watercraft inspection and decontamination
- Law enforcement support
- Educational materials
- Workshops and conferences
- ANS identification
- Cost-share opportunities
- Motorboat Colorado Grants
Since that time, Parks and Wildlife has built up an extensive network of approximately 72 boat inspection and decontamination stations that are operated collaboratively by state, local, federal and private entities. These stations are all certified by CPW and conduct over 425,000 inspections annually – each of which is a face-to-face educational contact with a sportsman or boater. There have been 106 infested mussel boats intercepted coming into Colorado from out of state. These infested boats pose a serious threat to the way we use water in Colorado. Prevention through boat inspections and education is our best defense!
In addition to coordinating the statewide ANS program implementation, the Invasive Species Coordinator also provides services to assist with terrestrial noxious weed and forest pest management in Colorado.