Quagga Mussels Are Spreading in Lake Powell

Quagga Beer Can

As boating season approaches the DWR reminds you to clean, drain and dry

Distribution of Quagga in US
Distribution of Quagga in US

Quagga mussels are spreading in Lake Powell. By following a few simple steps, you can do much to make sure that doesn’t happen anywhere in the United States including Utah.

With the Memorial Day weekend approaching, Division of Wildlife Resources Lieutenant Scott Dalebout encourages you Clean, Drain & Dry this boating season.

Except for Lake Powell, all of Utah’s waters are considered free of Quagga mussels. This is not necessarily the case for all lakes in the U.S. especially the Great Lakes.  To keep it that way, Dalebout encourages you to clean, drain and dry your boat, even if the water you just finished boating is considered clean.

Lake Powell under WaterThis Quagga mussel photo — taken underwater at Lake Powell in 2015 — shows why DWR and Utah State Parks officials don’t want them in other waters in Utah: when mussels establish themselves, they spread fast.

“Utah’s waters are tested for Quagga mussels regularly,” he says, “but you never know when and where they might turn up. Cleaning, draining and drying your boat — after every boating trip — will help ensure any mussels that might have attached themselves to your boat, or gotten into its water supply, aren’t carried to another water.”

What to Expect When Launching Your Boat

When you arrive at a launch ramp, there’s a good chance DWR or Utah State Parks aquatic invasive species (AIS) technicians will be near the boat ramp, visiting with boaters about where they’ve been boating and making sure boats that have been on waters infested with Quagga mussels have been properly decontaminated before launching. At times, lines can get long at the launch ramps.

“Please be patient and courteous,” Dalebout says. “The technicians are working hard to keep Utah’s waters free of Quagga mussels. They’re trying to get boaters through the lines as fast as they can while ensuring that any boat that might be carrying mussels doesn’t slip through.”

Remove Your Drain Plugs When Removing Your Boat

If you boat on Lake Powell, you must remove the drain plugs from your boat and leave them out until you get home. Leaving the plugs out will help ensure that all of the water in the boat drains out as you travel down the road.

Mandatory Inspection Stations Exist in Most States


In Utah there are three mandatory Quagga mussel inspection stations. If you’re pulling or transporting watercraft, including boats, personal watercraft (such as Jet Skis and Wave Runners), canoes, kayaks or float tubes, you must stop at the stations. If you don’t, you’ll likely receive a citation. Then, the officer who cited you will direct you back to the station to get your watercraft inspected.

In addition to the inspection stations, DWR officers and biologists also conduct administrative checkpoints along traffic routes that lead out of the Bullfrog and Wahweap marina areas at Lake Powell.

“The officers and biologists check boats for attached Quagga and Zebra mussels, and for standing water,” says Nate Owens, AIS coordinator for the DWR. “They also examine boats to ensure the drain plugs have been removed and have not been reinstalled. Citations are issued for violating any of these rules.”

Why be Concerned About Quagga or Zebra Mussels?

There are many reasons why we don’t want Quagga mussels, or their cousins, Zebra mussels, in the United States:

Tennis shoe mussels•    Mussels can plug water lines, even lines that are large in diameter.

•    If mussels get into fresh water pipes, it will cost millions of dollars to try to remove them. If you live in a state with this problem, you’ll likely pay higher utility bill costs to try to get the mussels removed.

•    Mussels remove plankton from the water, the same plankton that supports fish and they could devastate fisheries.

•    Mussels can get into your boat’s engine cooling system. Once they do, they’ll foul the system and damage the engine.

•    When mussels die in large numbers, they stink. And their sharp shells can cut your feet as you walk along the beaches where the mussels died.

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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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