Highline Lake: A Case Study in Invasive Species Management

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Highline Lake in Colorado is the state's first reservoir to be infested with zebra mussels, a nuisance species that can cause damage to infrastructure and threaten water quality.

Wildlife officials are still evaluating options to eradicate the mussels and stop the spread into other bodies of water in the state.

One option is to lower or drain the lake in 2024, which would be a complex and challenging undertaking.

Another option is to use chemical treatments, which are effective at killing zebra mussels but can also harm other aquatic life.

While officials work on a long-term solution, an emergency fish salvage is in place at Highline Lake, meaning anglers can catch and keep as many fish as they want.

Zebra mussels are tiny organisms with big impacts. They attach to solid surfaces and clog boat engines and water distribution pipes.

They can also filter large amounts of water, consuming nutrients needed by other fish and plants in the ecosystem.

The discovery of zebra mussels at Highline Lake is a reminder of the importance of preventing the introduction of invasive species.

Anglers and waterfowl hunters can help by cleaning, draining, and drying their gear before traveling to and entering any new body of water.

The Highline Lake case study is a reminder of the challenges of managing invasive species and the importance of taking steps to prevent their introduction.

The outcome of the eradication efforts at Highline Lake will have implications for other water bodies in Colorado and across the country.