Utah sets up checkpoints in effort to contain invasive quagga mussels

All vehicles — even those not transporting watercraft — will be required to stop.

Utah is ramping up its defenses in the battle against invasive quagga mussels this summer. Over the next few months, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will conduct mandatory administrative checkpoints during busy boating weekends with the aim of making sure that visitors leaving Lake Powell — where the mussels have proliferated — don’t unwittingly spread quagga to other bodies of water.

All vehicles, even those not transporting watercraft, will be required to stop at the checkpoints. Then, vehicles with watercraft will be separated for inspection. Conservation officers will make sure watercraft have been cleaned and drained properly, and that they’re free of plants, mud and attached invasive species — quagga mussels especially.

The checkpoints will be held at the exiting fee booth area of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near Bullfrog on S.R. 276 on these weekends:

  • May 30 and 31 from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

  • July 4 and 5 from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

  • July 25 and 26 from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

  • Sept. 5 and 6 from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

“We have been tasked with doing everything possible to keep quagga mussels contained in Lake Powell (as well as other infested waters outside of Utah) and out of the rest of the waters in the state,” said Bruce Johnson, DWR aquatic invasive species statewide operations lieutenant, in a news release. “The inspection stations are conducted to eradicate and prevent these invasive species from infesting other waterbodies.”

(File photo courtesy of Natalie Muth | Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) Quagga mussels cling to the bottom of a boat at Lake Mead.

Quagga mussels appeared in Lake Powell several years ago, and because they have no natural checks on their population, they can’t be removed. Quagga mussels can plug water lines; get into boat engine systems and cause damage; and remove plankton that supports fish species in Utah — which is why the DWR makes such an effort to contain them to Lake Powell.

“If quagga mussels get into water delivery systems in Utah, it will cost millions of dollars annually to remove them and keep the pipes clear, which could result in higher utility bills for every resident,” Johnson warned in a news release about a new method of boat decontamination the DWR is using.

In addition to the administrative checkpoints, there are also inspection stations, but only drivers transporting watercraft are required to stop at them. According to the DWR, that includes personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks, float tubes, paddleboards, and any trailers and vehicles that touch the water. Inspection stations are typically found at boat launch points on lakes and other bodies of water, and there are also some located on highways throughout Utah.

Not stopping at an inspection station is a class B misdemeanor.

Find a full list of inspection station locations here.