Mussel Containment Program

A boat propeller is lifted into the air. It is covered with mussels.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Quagga Mussel Containment Program Overview


Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is developing an extended response strategy in accordance with the National Park Service Quagga/Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention and Response Planning Guide (2007) to minimize the spread of invasive mussels from Lake Powell and to manage park operations now that quagga mussels are present. The main focus shifts from prevention to containment and incorporates science and lessons learned from Lake Mead National Recreation Area. As there is a high degree of uncertainty but clearly defined goals, adaptive management will provide the framework for the prevention, monitoring, and containment actions for extended response.

In March of 2013, the first adult quagga mussels were discovered in Lake Powell. Between March 2013 and January 2014, more than 7000 adult quagga mussels were found on watercraft, marina structures, and canyon walls. It was expected that the mussel infestation would continue to spread and that the population abundance would continue to increase.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area convened a science panel and a problem analysis team to inform management discussions regarding the National Park Service (NPS) response to the presence of quagga mussels in Lake Powell. The science panel concluded that there is no known feasible method to eradicate quagga mussels from Lake Powell. The problem analysis team identified and ranked the relative risks of different pathways for both the introduction of aquatic invasive species to Lake Powell and the potential spread of quagga mussels from Lake Powell. For spread of adult mussels, long-term slipped and moored watercraft were identified as a highest risk vector, and short-term come-and-go watercraft were identified as a lower risk.

Utah and Arizona have designated the entirety of Lake Powell as infested/affected by invasive quagga mussels. State laws require that watercraft and conveyances are decontaminated to avoid transporting quagga mussels. The National Park Service operates under proprietary jurisdiction at Glen Canyon and has no jurisdictional authority to enforce state laws regarding containment (exiting watercraft) of quagga mussels at Lake Powell. State officers retain full authority to enforce state laws within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area boundaries.


Prevention Actions

The National Park Service requires decontamination of any watercraft observed entering Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with confirmed visible (or detectable) aquatic invasive species (36 CFR 2.1). This requirement protects Lake Powell and is a continuation of the park's long-standing prevention program. Prevention of other aquatic invasive species is included in the public education effort to support containment actions.

Glen Canyon requires agency-controlled watercraft (concessioners, contractors, and permittees) to be inspected and, if necessary, decontaminated. This requirement applies to agency-controlled watercraft entering Lake Powell for the first time or after use in other water bodies. This requirement is managed as a concessioner, contractor, and permittee responsibility as law and policy allow.


Containment Actions

A targeted education campaign is aimed at come and go boaters to reinforce watercraft operator responsibility to "clean, drain, and dry" their vessel to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The park continues a highly visible public education and outreach campaign to promote the message of "clean, drain, and dry," increasing awareness of and compliance with watercraft owner responsibilities required by state aquatic invasive species laws and regulations. This public messaging effort includes roving NPS employees at launch ramps and marinas where rangers contact boaters to provide the "clean, drain, and dry" message, show how to carry it out if necessary, and answer questions about quagga mussels and applicable state requirements. Non-personal services will also be used to promote the message through signs, displays, website, social media, and other mechanisms.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area does not have the infrastructure or the resources to provide decontamination for the hundreds of thousands of watercraft using Lake Powell. Glen Canyon offers decontamination services for any non-agency-controlled vessels (other than concessioner, contractor, and permittee) observed entering or exiting the park with confirmed visible (or detectable) attached quagga mussels or other aquatic invasive species (AIS) when needed. The NPS provides support for private businesses to develop permanent decontamination stations outside the park to serve watercraft using Lake Powell.

Glen Canyon requires agency-controlled watercraft (concessioner, contractor, permittee) to be inspected and if necessary decontaminated, while providing information about applicable state regulations. This requirement is managed as a concessioner, contractor, and permittee responsibility as law and policy allow. All slipped and moored boats, the most likely vector of spread of adult mussels, are covered by this provision. Other requirements on agency-controlled watercraft at Glen Canyon NRA include making required notifications to states, developing HACCP (Hazard Analysis at Critical Control Points plans document AIS abatements steps), informing customers of requirements, enforcing NPS and state rules, and seeking assistance from the NPS when needed.

As multi-jurisdictional data collection systems are developed, Glen Canyon will participation through the Utah and/or Arizona Aquatic Invasive Species programs to monitor the movement of watercraft to and from Lake Powell. Such systems are already in place in many western states. As states develop watercraft inspection and decontamination regulations or licensing requirements for private businesses engaged in those processes, NPS continues to assist with training vendors in the local area and directs visitors to those state approved facilities.


Ask Us

Please direct questions in regards to the quagga mussel response at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to us at e-mail us

Last updated: March 3, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1507
Page, AZ 86040


928 608-6200
Receptionist available at Glen Canyon Headquarters from 7 am to 4 pm MST, Monday through Friday. The phone is not monitored when the building is closed. If you are having an emergency, call 911 or hail National Park Service on Marine Band 16.

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