Invasive zebra mussels have “infested” a Colorado lake for the first time, raising fears they could spread

Colorado Parks and Wildlife plans to inspect every boat using Highline Lake near Loma when it reopens for the season next spring

Tatiana Flowers
The Colorado Sun
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a group of zebra mussels. The invasive species of small mollusks is growing in Colorado.
U.S. Department of Agriculture via AP

LOMA — Invasive zebra mussels have “infested” the water at Highline Lake — a reservoir north of Loma, near Utah — despite a 15-year effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to keep the state free of the harmful species, the agency said this week.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff have discovered at least 10 zebra mussels in Highline Lake.

After the first adult zebra mussel was found in the reservoir Sept. 14, Parks and Wildlife staff found almost a dozen more of the mussels in the same body of water on Friday and Sunday. Soon after, the department changed the status of the lake from “suspect” to “infested,” according to a news release sent Tuesday.

The new infestation could lead to millions of dollars in damage to water-based infrastructure, and threatens to impact water quality and limit recreational opportunity. 

A single mussel can produce up to 1 million babies in a single year, officials said, making it challenging to contain the species, and nearly impossible to eradicate them once they’re introduced.


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