A growing threat to Colorado's recreational waters has prompted officials to start locking the boat ramp at Highline Lake and requiring a mandatory inspection before a boat can be launched.

Boat inspections are nothing new to Colorado boaters to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels in Colorado lakes and reservoirs.

According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife, there are boaters suspected of launching in Colorado waters without the required inspection, which can result in the infestation of Colorado waters of these unwanted creatures. At issue is the fact that these mussels negatively impact the food chain for native fish.

In March, two boats heavily encrusted with mussels were intercepted at Highline Lake, both having come from Lake Powell. That has prompted wildlife officials to modify the boat ramp rules at Highline.

April 1 through May 15 boats can launch only between the hours of 7 am and 8 pm and May 16 through September 4, boats can only be launched between 5 am and 10 pm. If inspectors are not on duty, the ramp will remain locked, and boat launch will not be possible until inspectors arrive.

Lake Powell is one of several bodies of waters in the western United States with a "severe and likely permanent plague" of invasive mussels. Colorado officials consider the Lake Powell mussels to be a serious threat to Colorado waters.