The mission of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is to perpetuate the wildlife resources and outdoor recreational opportunities of the state and provide people the opportunity to enjoy them. Invasive species can devastate wildlife habitat by outcompeting native species for food and shelter, and disrupting wildlife related recreation. Without a coordinated prevention program, early detection and rapid response to new invasions, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation are at serious risk.
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 (which have been updated since then). 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, CPW 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 450,000 inspections annually – each of which is a face-to-face educational contact with a sportsperson or boater. There have been over 150 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 inspection, decontamination, and education is our best defense!
In addition to coordinating the statewide ANS program implementation, the Invasive Species Program also provides services related to terrestrial noxious weed, animal, and forest pest management in Colorado.
For more information on invasive species, please visit: