New Mexico puts bilingual signs at lakes warning against invasive species

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This March 20, 2013 image shows Elephant Butte Lake State Park, the largest and most popular of New Mexico’s state parks. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has erected its first-ever bilingual Spanish-English billboards at two lakes warning against invasive species.

The state Department of Game and Fish announced this month officials posted two billboards at Elephant Butte Lake and a third at Caballo Lake.

The signs inform boaters to “clean, drain and dry” their watercraft and that watercraft need an inspection when encountering an open inspection station. Inspecting watercraft is the first defense against accidentally transporting aquatic invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels into New Mexico waters.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Mary Carlson said state and federal officials want to raise awareness about the threats posed by aquatic invasive species.

Carlson said zebra and quagga mussels have caused millions of dollars in damage to dams, reservoirs, irrigation systems, and drinking water conveyance systems in other states.

“We get a large number of boaters at Elephant Butte from El Paso and Juarez whose primary language is Spanish,” James Dominguez, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator with the state Department of Game and Fish, said. “If we’re trying to get an educational message out, we need to reach as many people as possible.”

The bilingual signs are funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and were designed by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

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