Boaters at Vega State Park in western Colorado will notice some changes when they arrive at the reservoir this year. The changes are part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife's effort to protect Colorado waters from invasive aquatic species that can do significant damage to water storage and delivery systems.
To prevent boats from launching during hours that ANS inspections are not available, the park has installed new gates and one-way spike strips. The spike strips will allow boats to exit the lake after hours at the Island Boat Ramp but will prevent anyone from entering the lake during non-inspection hours. Purchase of the traffic spike strips was funded by Ute Water with installation assistance and materials provided by the Town of Collbran Public Works and the Collbran Job Corps concrete trades training program.
There are three boat ramps at Vega Reservoir - Island, Early Settlers, and Oak Point. Gates at Early Settlers and Oak Point will be locked during non-inspection hours and only the Island ramp will be usable by boaters exiting the water after inspection hours.
Boat inspections hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from May 1 through May 27. Beginning the Friday before Memorial Day weekend (May 28) hours run from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. through Labor Day weekend (September 6). From September 7 through October 31 ANS inspection hours at Vega return to 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Vega is closed to boating from November 1 through the end of April.
"Boaters that plan to exit the lake after inspection hours should park and use the Island boat ramp so that they are not behind locked gates after hours," said Park Manager James Masek. "It may take boaters a moment to get used to the new system but it's critically important to protect the waters and keep them open to boating into the future. We appreciate everyone's cooperation in this effort."
The Colorado State Legislature approved a bill in 2018 that requires Colorado boat owners who operate motorboats and sailboats on public lakes and reservoirs to purchase a $25 ANS stamp annually. The cost of the stamp for out-of-state motorboats and sailboats is $50. Boaters from out of state can purchase online, at CPW offices, or at over 700 sales locations statewide.
Aquatic nuisance species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, pose a serious threat to natural resources, recreation and the water infrastructure of the state. Mussel infestations cause a variety of major problems. Because mussels consume plankton, they disrupt the food web and out-compete sport fish and native fish. Mussels clog infrastructure, including reservoir dams, outlet structures and distribution systems that carry water for irrigation, municipal and industrial uses. Mussels also infest boats and damage engines.
Mussels have caused billions of dollars in damage, especially in the upper Midwest. Nearby states where mussel infestations exist include Utah, Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Invasive mussels could have devastating ecological, economic, and recreational impacts if infestations were to establish here.
A complete list of Colorado inspection sites and hours of operation, along with information about the ANS stamp, can be found on CPW's boating page. Always check with your destination reservoir before going to verify hours of operation.