Beginning in May, boat ramps at McPhee Marina and House Creek north of Dolores will be gated at night.
An engineer with the Dolores Water Conservancy District, Ken Curtis, told the Montezuma County commissioners on Monday that concern about invasive mussels is behind the planned change. Curtis said if the tiny invasive mollusks ever infest McPhee Reservoir, they will spread downstream, clog irrigation systems, damage water intakes, and possibly threaten Cortez’s municipal water supply. The creatures are a problem nationwide and can be carried in boats that aren’t completely drained. Colorado law requires inspections of all motorized craft from out of state or that have been in infested waters. In the past, the costs of the inspections at McPhee were shared by the Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This year, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Dolores water district contributed as well. Curtis said next year, inspections are planned daily from May through August at McPhee and four days a week at House Creek, at a cost of $87,000. The rest of the time, the two boat ramps will be gated to stop access by uninspected craft. One thing I didn’t quite catch were the hours. He says they intend McPhee boat ramp to be open May 1 through October seven days per week and the House Creek boat ramp open May 1 through October four days per week. For an additional $42,000 the hours might be extended, but Curtis said this appears unlikely. Curtis said no adult mussels have yet been detected at McPhee but the possibility “scares us to death”.