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Launch your boat faster at Flaming Gorge Reservoir


Local boater program at Flaming Gorge
Local boater program at Flamging Gorge

DWR starts local boater program for those living near the reservoir

Vernal -- If you own a boat and reside in the towns of Manila or Dutch John, you may have just gained an express pass to launch your boat on Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has created a local boater program. The program will reduce the amount of time you spend with aquatic invasive species (AIS) specialists before launching your boat at a launch ramp on the Utah side of the reservoir.

Faster launch times

If you've launched any type of watercraft in Utah, you know the threat posed by quagga mussels has increased the amount of time you have to spend before launching your boat. For example, each time you visit a lake in Utah, you must complete a decontamination certification form. However, if you want to boat on Flaming Gorge-and you have a local boater sticker-an AIS specialist will not need to inspect your boat. Instead, she or he will simply verify your sticker and let you launch.

If you join the program, you'll be required to inspect your own boat and ensure that the process of cleaning (removing all plants and debris from your boat and sea strainer), draining (all the water from your boat, such as live wells and ballast tanks) and drying (for the required length of time) has already occurred.

Jessica Wooten, a DWR AIS interdiction specialist, says interdiction specialists are working countless hours to prevent quagga mussels from spreading into waters in Utah.

"We understand the boat ramp at Flaming Gorge can become bottle necked at times," she says, "but this local boater program will help. It's meant to keep the boat ramp moving in a timely, more efficient manner. We want to work proactively with our local boaters so we can spend more time inspecting and decontaminating boats coming in from contaminated waters, such as Lake Powell."

How to join

To participate in the program, you must be a resident of Manila or Dutch John, or store your watercraft in a storage facility in one of the towns. The sticker is good for one calendar year (for example, Jan. 1, 2018 - Dec. 31, 2018). You'll receive a sticker after completing the following steps:

  1. Completing a Flaming Gorge mussel awareness form
  2. Completing a Mussel Aware Boater Program Course form (available at www.stdofthesea.com)
  3. Providing proof of residence (for example, a utility bill, bank statement or payroll stub)
  4. If you're storing a boat in either town, you must also include a receipt confirmation from the boat storage facility where your boat is stored.

After completing the items above, submit them to a UDWR AIS interdiction specialist to receive your local boater program sticker. The sticker will be applied to the bow of the watercraft's starboard side (the right side of the boat if looking from the rear of the boat). Each time you take your boat off of Flaming Gorge, you'll need to clean and drain the boat, and start the drying process, before you leave the reservoir.

The local boater program is offered only on the Utah side of Flaming Gorge. Since Utah and Wyoming share the reservoir, you need to obey each state's rules and regulations. When launching in Wyoming, you'll still be required to stop for mandatory inspections. Your vessel must also have a Wyoming AIS sticker attached to it.

Also, please be aware that UDWR conservation officers perform random administrative check points and mandatory inspection stations across Utah. All watercraft, including those participating in the local boater program, must stop for inspection.

The UDWR will gather data daily concerning the number of local boaters entering Flaming Gorge. Also, once a month, agency staff will request feedback from boaters in the program.

Launching outside of Flaming Gorge

If you decide to boat on a water other than Flaming Gorge, you must contact an AIS interdiction specialist at Flaming Gorge first. The specialist will then contact an AIS interdiction specialist at the water you're going to boat on.

"As a trial run," Wooten says, "this program is honored only at Flaming Gorge. It does not serve as an all-access pass around the state. When you arrive at the boat's new destination, you'll still have to stop at the inspection stations."

For more information about the program, call Wooten at 435-790-5357 or Tonya Kieffer, UDWR regional conservation outreach manager, at 801-995-2972.