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Colorado's Efforts Against Invasive Species
Colorado's Efforts Against Invasive Species
boat Inspection

ANS Plan cover

State of Colorado Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan

In Dec. 2020, the national Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force approved the State of Colorado Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Management Plan to protect Colorado waterways from invasive species.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Invasive Species Program

Mission Statement

The Invasive Species Program Mission is to protect... 

  • ​Natural resources
  • Wildlife
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Infrastructure 
  • The economy 
This effort centers around preventing the introduction of harmful invasive species, including: 

  • Aquatic nuisance species 
  • Noxious weeds
  • Exotic forest pests 
  • Invasive mammals
It also involves containing current infestations to stop the spread into new waters or lands.

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.​


scuba diverThe 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, ifANS decontamination 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​​boat inspection
  • Watercraft inspection and decontamination
  • Law enforcement support
  • Educational materials
  • Workshops and conferences
  • Sampling/monitoring
  • 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: