NEWS

Game and Fish offers FAQs for boaters at Glendo, Keyhole

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is concerned about the immediate and growing threat of the destructive aquatic invasive species.

10/4/2022 11:03:43 PM

Cheyenne - Restrictions for boaters at Glendo and Keyhole state parks begin Oct. 5 to help protect the two popular reservoirs from zebra mussels. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is concerned about the immediate and growing threat of the destructive aquatic invasive species. An infestation of zebra mussels has been documented at nearby Pactola Reservoir in South Dakota. Game and Fish inspection data shows Keyhole and Glendo are frequent destinations for boaters who visit Pactola. 

To help boaters understand the new protocols, Game and Fish is answering questions from the public about these changes. 

“To date, zebra mussels have not been found in Wyoming, but we need your help to stop the spread of zebra mussels to protect the ecosystem and the state — and conserve Wyoming’s water resources and fisheries well into the future for everyone,” said Alan Osterland, chief of fisheries. 

At both Keyhole and Glendo state parks, all watercraft will be inspected at the boat ramp before launching. Watercraft must be inspected in the daylight hours and checkstations will be open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. This start time may change in coming weeks as days get shorter. Any time changes will be posted on the Game and Fish website. 

Use of the boat ramp is restricted to 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Launching without an inspection is prohibited. 

At Keyhole, boaters will be limited to launching at Pine Haven — Coulter Bay ramp. Glendo boaters will launch only at Whiskey Gulch. All other boat ramps will be closed, and shore launching is prohibited. Boaters should plan for delays getting on the water.

At this time limitations will be effective through Nov. 30 at Keyhole. Restrictions at Glendo will be in place until the reservoir freezes. 

Over the winter Game and Fish will evaluate boating protocols for the 2023 season.

Keyhole/Glendo FAQ

Why are boating restrictions and new inspection protocols in place at Glendo and Keyhole? 
These restrictions are to protect Glendo and Keyhole from an immediate and growing threat of zebra mussels, which have infested nearby Pactola Reservoir in South Dakota. Game and Fish inspection data shows Keyhole and Glendo are frequent destinations for boaters who visit Pactola. 

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks declared Pactola infested with zebra mussels on July 14. However, the risk of spread has increased significantly since this summer and more precautions are necessary for Wyoming. 

In mid-September, the marina at Pactola closed and boats moored at this location were inspected as they were removed. AIS inspectors reported multiple boats coming off the water from the marina with live, adult mussels attached. Finding multiple boats with fully grown, viable adult mussels on them shows that the infestation at Pactola is larger and more established than initially believed. 

Game and Fish must do all we can to protect our state from a zebra mussel infestation — for the ecosystem, anglers and all water users. To date, Game and Fish has not found zebra or quagga mussels in any of the state’s waters. The department is dedicated to doing all we can to stop the spread of zebra mussels to Wyoming. If mussels are found in Wyoming, there is no known way to get rid of them. 

Why are boat ramp hours 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.? 
Inspection hours are set due to staffing, safety and the ability for AIS inspectors to adequately inspect watercraft launching for zebra mussels and other AIS. At this time, boat ramps open and inspections begin at 7 a.m. but this start time may change in coming weeks as days get shorter. Any time changes will be posted on the Game and Fish website.

All watercraft must be inspected before launching. Entry inspections end at 5 p.m., so that means no watercraft will be able to launch past 5 p.m. Boaters will be able to come off the water using the ramp until 7 p.m. At 7 p.m. the ramp will close and be chained. Boaters should plan accordingly. 

The department is actively working to develop procedures to expedite inspections of boats that return to either Keyhole or Glendo prior to boating elsewhere.

State Parks has the authority to regulate boat ramp hours and has done so in consultation with Game and Fish. If a person violates any State Park or Game and Fish AIS regulations, law enforcement may issue a citation. 

Why are the boat inspection hours only between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.?
Inspection hours are set due to staffing, safety and the ability for AIS inspectors to adequately inspect watercraft launching for zebra mussels and other AIS. Boats must be inspected during daylight hours. At this time, boat ramps open and inspections begin at 7 a.m. but this start time may change in the coming weeks as days get shorter. Any time changes will be posted on the Game and Fish website.

Boats will not be able to launch after 5 p.m. if the inspection station is closed.

The department is actively working to develop procedures to expedite inspections of boats that return to either Keyhole or Glendo prior to boating elsewhere.

If a person violates any State Park or Game and Fish AIS regulations, law enforcement may issue a citation. 

How long will these restrictions be in place?
These restrictions are temporary. At this time limitations are effective through Nov. 30 at Keyhole. Restrictions at Glendo will be in place until the reservoir freezes. Over the winter Game and Fish in consultation with State Parks will evaluate boating protocols for the 2023 season.

How does Game and Fish and State Parks have the authority to do this?
The Wyoming Statute on AIS (23-4-203) provides authority for the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, in consult with State Parks and Cultural Resources to restrict watercraft use on "waters of the state" where a water is threatened with an imminent introduction of AIS or has been introduced. 

Game and Fish has reason to believe that the infestation of zebra mussels at Pactola Reservoir, combined with our data on boaters, represented an imminent threat of an introduction.

Can I get a private inspection before arriving at Glendo or Keyhole to expedite my wait at the ramp?
Yes — you can get a private inspection that could speed up your wait time at the boat ramp.  However, your watercraft could be subject to another inspection and decontamination, based on the history of where the boat has been.

A prior inspection does NOT mean you can get on the water before 7 a.m., but it could help you launch more quickly when you arrive. 

Why are restrictions only in place at Keyhole and Glendo? 
Game and Fish wants to maximize public access and recreation to the greatest extent possible, while also protecting the state. Focusing on Glendo and Keyhole, with increased inspections and limited boat ramps and hours, is the least impactful restrictions for Wyoming as a whole. In collaboration with State Parks, Game and Fish made these decisions based on data we collect on boaters. 

Since January 2020, 136 boaters came through Game and Fish AIS check stations who reported last being on the water on Pactola Reservoir and intended to launch in Wyoming waters. Of these 136, 75 reported that their next destination was Keyhole and 16 reported their next destination was Glendo. These were the top two locations noted by boaters. 

Keyhole and Glendo are large, popular reservoirs with a high volume of anglers and boaters — the risk of spread is high and there is a very good chance mussels would be viable in these waters. Due to their proximity to Pactola, any mussels or veligers carried on a boat and accidentally introduced into these waters would have a high chance of becoming established. Adult mussels spread easily as they can attach to hard surfaces and live up to 30 days out of the water. 

What happens if zebra mussels are found in Keyhole, Glendo or another Wyoming water? 
If zebra mussels are found in Keyhole, Glendo or any other Wyoming water, it is largely unknown what the impacts could be. However, it is likely that an infestation would be detrimental to the ecosystem, fishery, water infrastructure and overall recreation, based on what other states with infestations experience. 

However, if zebra mussels are found, there will be significant impacts to boaters in efforts to stop the spread to other waters. Game and Fish has rapid response plans in place if they are discovered. These plans detail the additional restrictions for boaters to stop the spread of mussels to other waters.

Game and Fish is continuing to monitor Keyhole, Glendo and other high-use recreation waters for zebra and quagga mussels. To date, neither of these invasive mussel species have been found in Wyoming. If mussels are found in Wyoming, there is no known way to get rid of them. 

Are the restrictions at Glendo and Keyhole because of Asian clams? 
No. The restrictions at Glendo and Keyhole are in place because of the immediate threat of zebra mussels from Pactola Reservoir. 

Asian clams have been identified in Wyoming before, most recently in Glendo in Aug. 2022 and in Keyhole in 2017. However, the spread of Asian clams in Wyoming underscores the department’s concern that zebra mussels could enter Wyoming, easily spread and cause damage to ecosystems and infrastructure. 

Do any rules change for non-motorized watercraft?
No — nonmotorized watercraft (paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, for example) must follow the same rules as motorized. Inspections on these watercrafts will be quicker, however.

 

 

 

(Sara DiRienzo, Public Information Officer - (sara.dirienzo@wyo.gov))

- WGFD -

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