Boat inspections required for Routt County lakes; fines enforced |

Boat inspections required for Routt County lakes; fines enforced

State officials continue fight against invasive zebra mussels

Zach Fridell

Lakes at Stagecoach State Park and Steamboat Lake State Park are expected to open May 1. People are required to have their boats inspected before launching.

— The waterways of Routt County are largely free from invasive species, but the effort to keep them that way will begin to gain momentum in May as boat checks are required on all boats launching into regional lakes.

Julie Arington, Steamboat Lake State Park manager, said boaters could make the process easier on everyone by having a clean, dry boat ready for inspections.

"If the boat is clean and dry and drained, it's a very quick process" that takes about five to 10 minutes, she said. "Standing water or things stuck on the boat takes longer."

She said boat inspectors will not be working all hours of the day, but inspections still are required, so those who intend to launch a boat from a trailer should plan ahead.

Inspectors will be at the marina from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday through Monday and from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Other inspectors will be available sporadically at other times, but the safest way to ensure an inspection is to call ahead, Arington said.

At Stagecoach State Park, Senior Ranger Kathleen Fis­cher said the inspections would start regularly May 15, and inspectors will be available at the marina from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. all week. Inspectors will be at other major launching places on the weekends, but Fischer also said it's important to call ahead. Boaters can get inspections the previous day and have a special seal applied to the boat before launch at both places.

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Stagecoach and Steamboat lakes will open May 1, if the ice has cleared.

Arington said there were still a couple of feet of ice on the lake last week, but it's starting to soften.

The inspections are important because several other waterways in Colorado and around the region have been found to have the zebra, or quagga, mussels. If those spread to other waters, that can change the entire ecosystem. Having the mussels in Stagecoach could be devastating for a number of reasons, Fischer said.

"It will basically change the entire structure of the lake. Potentially, we would have to lose it off to any recreational boating," she said. "It produces a bad algae, which will affect the trout fishery and could affect the functioning of the dam … and the entire downstream system."

A new law this year also allows park rangers to ticket boaters who launch without inspection. Fines are about $50 for the first offense, Fischer said.

Inspections are not required for hand-launched boats, including canoes and kayaks.

Camping opening

The camping season also is opening full force at Steamboat Lake this year, after logging operations shut part of the campgrounds last year. Arington said all areas of the park, including Pearl Lake and Bridge Island, will be open this year. Camping spaces can be reserved online for Steamboat Lake, she said, and places already are filling up for the Memorial Day weekend.

Get inspected

To schedule inspections, call:

■ Steamboat Lake State Park at 879-3922

■ Stagecoach State Park at 736-2436

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