By Lauren Lecy
Great Outdoors Colorado
The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded a $8,830 grant to Navajo State Park and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to install an on-demand watercraft decontamination system to prevent the spread of invasive species.
The grant is part of GOCO’s CPW Director’s Innovation Fund, a partnership between GOCO and CPW. The program is designed to fund small-dollar, innovative projects across the agency.
Traditionally, boats are decontaminated using hot water pressure washers, which are noisy, require frequent refueling, and are expensive to maintain and operate. On-demand decontamination systems use propane-fueled water heaters, which are more effective in removing invasive species by keeping the water at a consistent temperature. These systems are also silent when running, allowing for clearer communication between operators and boaters and minimizing the risk of accidents. In addition, costs associated with maintaining on-demand systems are much lower than the existing pressure washers.
Navajo Reservoir is one of the highest-risk bodies of water in the state for potential introduction of invasive animals and plants. The reservoir sees more large and complex boats than most others in Colorado, which pose a higher risk of transporting unwanted species. It is also a destination for out-of-state boaters due to its proximity to Arizona and New Mexico, and locals are more likely to venture to infested waters in other states.
If introduced, zebra and quagga mussels, two invasive species that disrupt aquatic ecosystems, would have the potential to thrive in the habitat at the park. Once established, there are currently no known eradication methods in open water. Effectively killing and removing these species from watercraft prior to launch is important to avoid long-lasting ecological damage.
To date, GOCO has invested more than $9.2 million in projects in Archuleta County and conserved more than 21,000 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported Pagosa Skyrocket State Natural Area, Pagosa Springs Town-to-Lakes Trail, the conservation of Catspaw Ranch and the Archuleta County Fairgrounds, among other projects.
GOCO invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through CPW. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,300 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.