Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Keyhole check station plans already in place


March 2, 2023

Spring may seem a long way away from underneath February’s snowdrifts, but the Wyoming Game & Fish Department will be prepared when it arrives to protect Keyhole Reservoir from an infestation of zebra mussels.

Game & Fish has been concerned about this possibility since an infestation of the invasive creatures was reported at Pactola Reservoir, just 30 miles from the Wyoming border. This was the closest location where the species has yet been found, which the department concluded was a significant increase to the risk to the state’s waters.

Not only was it the first time zebra mussels had been found in a natural water body this close to Wyoming’s border, many boaters frequent waters on both sides of the state line. Mussels can spread easily, even in their microscopic state, from just a little water left standing on a boat.

Wyoming remains one of the only states to remain free of the destructive species.

The response will see increased activity at the existing check stations beginning in March, but will also remove the boat ramp restrictions that have recently been in place at Keyhole.

“In response to this heightened threat, last fall we implemented temporary boat ramp closures and other restrictions at Keyhole, LAK and Glendo reservoirs,” said Reed Moore, Game and Fish aquatic invasive species specialist in the Sheridan Region, in a press release.

“The threat of an introduction of zebra mussels in Wyoming, or other damaging aquatic invasive species, will continue to remain high, so over the past several months we developed plans to expand check stations and staffing along our state’s eastern border. These changes will increase our ability to efficiently inspect watercraft entering Wyoming, while also making it easier for watercraft owners who only operate their watercraft in Wyoming to launch.” 

Instead of the boat ramp restrictions that were put in place as a temporary measure to guard against the threat at Keyhole and Glendo reservoirs, existing check stations in Beulah and Torrington and at the two reservoirs will have increased staffing and hours.

New check stations will open in Newcastle and Manville.

The changes are intended to provide additional opportunities for watercraft owners to comply with inspection requirements. The check stations will begin opening in March and open stations will be prominently marked with road signs.

All watercraft traveling into Wyoming from March 1 to November 30 must be inspected prior to launch within the state. Boat owners must also stop at any open AIS check station they pass with their watercraft while traveling to or from their boating destination.

Other inspection options can be found on the agency’s website or by calling a regional office if an inspection is needed outside of check station hours.

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of watercraft owners during the past few months as we responded to the unfortunate discovery of zebra mussels in Pactola Reservoir,” said Eric Hansen, Game and Fish aquatic invasive species specialist in the Casper Region, who supervises the Glendo check station.

“We expect the expanded efforts at these eastern locations will increase protection for our Wyoming waters from AIS and simplify the inspection process for boaters coming into Wyoming.”


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