Lakewood will install them next month to try to block invasive species from its water

Will gates keep the zebra mussels out?

Updated: 2013-06-18T19:26:23Z

By RUSS PULLEY

Special to The Star

Lakewood, a private lake community in Lee’s Summit, will put up gates next month to control access as one measure to prevent zebra mussels from invading.

The large lake subdivision is one of many in the area that are vulnerable to the nuisance creature that’s already in Smithville Lake, the Missouri River and Lake Lotawana.

Lakewood residents agreed mussels are a headache they don’t want.

The prolific mussels, a species from Eurasia spreading in the U.S., attach to hulls of boats, docks, even onto other wildlife. They clog water intakes, boat motors and compete native species for food.

The Lakewood Property Owners Association proposed a set of new rules and security, including the gates and inspections, to make sure no one brings the mussels into their lake.

Some of the boaters at Lakewood, who happen to move their watercraft frequently, thought the proposals were intrusive.

“Still a bad deal,” said Rex Murdock, a resident who often fishes in other lakes besides at home. “The action is extreme.”

He said he was out of town during the property owners meeting June 13 where the Lakewood Property Owners Association board of directors voted to approve the policy.

“From what I understand the LPOA board does not know how they will implement some parts of the policy but still voted to make it a regulation,” Murdock said. “It is over the top.”

Sean Bachtel, director of community relations for the board, said the board decided to go to the full program, but implement it in increments, to allow time for installing equipment and training personnel.

“It allows us for the period of this summer to get a handle on inspections and the staffing levels, so we’ll know if something needs to be tweaked,” Bachtel said.

Lakewood will start with education, mailing information about zebra mussels and posting signs at boat ramps.

By the middle of July gates will be installed at boat ramps.

Before a boat is launched on the lake, Lakewood personnel will inspect it to see whether it is clean and dry. If it has standing water or plant debris that could harbor zebra mussel larvae, the rule requires washing the boat before it goes on the lake.

Personnel also will install a seal on boats and trailers leaving the lake to indicate their use elsewhere. If boaters return with the seals intact, they can launch their craft without an inspection.

If the tag is disturbed, an inspection will be required.

If there is standing water in the boat, or in live wells, or plant life is hanging off the trailer, there will be an inspection and staff could refuse it entrance to the lake.

“Those are red flags,” Bachtel said.

Bachtel said the majority of residents support the program.

Only after Jan. 1 will the full program be underway, with boat washing stations installed. The measures include some other rules for commercial repair and boat storage outfits. Owners who try to circumvent the rules can face a $5,000 fine.

Bachtel said washing every time a boat is moved from one body of water to another is preferred because the larvae, called veligers, can’t be seen unaided, so that is the best prevention.

They can survive several days out of water, or even longer in humid weather. So cleaning a boat with a water temperature greater than 104 degrees or with bleach will kill them.

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