New Decontamination Procedures at Launch Ramps - Julie Sabattis _UDWR

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wayne gustaveson

Staff member
My name is Julie and I run the program at the south end of the Lake for UDWR. The mussels at Lake Powell have created situations and new challenges as the population continues to reproduce and the water levels drastically fluctuate seasonally. The primary issue we have seen this 2019 season is as follows: the water level dropped significantly over the fall/winter months of 2018 exposing a large amount of mussels on the walls throughout the lake. The mussels died but remained attached to the wall via their bysall threads. Spring runoff has increased the lake water level in conjunction with our spring wind storms and showers. These along with boating wave action has dislodged an incredible amount of mussels into the water, many I'm sure sink, but many remain floating on the surface . We are seeing a large number of boats being retrieved from all the ramp locations where mussel shells (whole or partial, dead or alive) have statically clung to the boat and/or trailer. We are also seeing a large percentage of boats with sea strainers suck these mussels and shells into their systems. My job as one of the Lake Powell program manager's is to protect our uninfested lakes as well as successfully assist the Lake Powell boating community to prevent the spread of Lake Powell Quagga mussels and Quagga mussel water. That is not an easy task. All boats should be inspected by the operator prior to arriving in the watercraft inspection line to ensure their boat is clean of mussels and fully drained. This will speed up the process of the inspection and allow you to start your travel home. As you are aware, it is illegal to transport Quagga mussels away from Lake Powell. We have been directed at this time to ensure all boats are legal to transport away from the lake. Due to the high volume of statically clung mussels and mussels in sea strainers, we are currently prioritizing these boats and not doing decontamination on boats that simply cannot meet the state required dry time. We have many other decontamination stations around the state that can accommodate those watercraft. Those locations can be found at The changing dynamics that occur at Powell are sometimes quicker than we can get the word and new messaging out, but I'd like to address these concerns.

First, technicians in the park have not stopped performing decontaminations as mentioned above. If technicians have the capacity and resources and are not fatigued by the extreme temperatures that exist at Powell in the summer, they can performed the decontamination the boater has received in the past. The state is currently seeking private businesses to assist the state in accommodating decontaminations. The highest need is at either end of Lake Powell since it is our state's only Quagga infested body of water. Request for proposals were initiated at both ends of the lake, however, not all boating businesses are interested in getting into the decon business and a few of the businesses that do want to assist the state, have limited capacity as well.

As hard working as our technicians are, they don't get everything right 100% of the time. It is not a felony to transport Quagga mussels. It can be up to a First Class A Misdemeanor and is accessed on a case by case scenario by Conservation Law Enforcement. My suggestion would be to ask to speak to or request the number of the technician's supervisor so that you can get better clarification if you feel that the answer is incorrect.

Lake Powell boaters as it stands currently, will be directed to a private business for two reasons:
1. If they are seeking a decontamination flush because the boat will be launched at a non-infested body of water before the dry time is met and technicians do not have the capacity OR
2. They are required to be decontaminated prior to transport due to attached Quagga Mussels by byssal threads (typically seen on slipped and moored boats). These types of boats require a great deal of time that cannot be performed by technicians who have priority to inspect and address the issue boats mentioned above.

If it is scenario #2, then by law that boat cannot transport until decontamination has been performed, even if heading to a different state other than Utah. There are so many different variables and circumstances this can encompass so I won't get into it on this platform but as a boat owner/operator recreating on Lake Powell, it is that person's responsibility to make arrangements ahead of time so to reduce wait times. If a boat receives a decontamination for mussels attached with byssal threads, it is required to go through an ADDITIONAL 30 day quarantine after decontamination occurs. The additional 30 day quarantine will not be required for the statically clung mussels on boats or mussels in the sea strainer discussed earlier.

We strive to make what occurs up lake and down lake consistent, but we work under different circumstances and each area has it's own challenges. This avenue of getting other businesses involved is in it's infancy. We continue to work to address the needs to make the transition smoother. The goal in the end is to provide more locations where decontamination can be performed to spread the work load and reduce wait times for all boaters. I believe constructive input is valuable on making programs better and encourage all boaters to plan and ask questions ahead of time and be patient with the on the ground staff. We would welcome any suggestions for improvements you may have.
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