Seaplanes splash into Kenney Reservoir

Colorado State Senator Bob Rankin went for a ride in one of the seaplanes that landed at Kenney Reservoir last weekend. This year’s event included the dedication of a seaplane to the CNCC Aviation Technology Flight Program by CNCC alumni Carl Mattson, and a demonstration of the inspection and decontamination process for seaplanes to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species.
Brett Dearman photo

RANGELY | The seaplane Splash-In in Rangely, hosted by Colorado Northwestern Community College, Rio Blanco County, the Town of Rangely, Rangely Chamber of Commerce, Rio Blanco Water Conservation District and the Colorado Seaplane Initiative, had three elements. The first was the dedication of a seaplane donated to the CNCC Aviation Technology Flight Program by CNCC graduate and longtime pilot Carl Mattson.

The second goal of the Splash-In was with regard to raising awareness of the prohibition of seaplanes on Colorado state-owned public waterways. This prohibition is mostly due to the concern over the certain aquatic invasive species, most specifically Zebra mussels or Quagga mussels. The director of Colorado Seaplane Initiative, Ray Hawkins, spearheaded the presentation of the proposed decontamination process of seaplanes.

As it stands today, there are only two lakes in Colorado that allow seaplanes: Kenney Reservoir and Lake Meredith Reservoir (east of Pueblo) which are both privately owned waterways. Colorado Parks and Wildlife will not allow seaplanes on any state park waters due to the potential transmission of invasive species and furthermore, will not allow any organization to even demonstrate a responsible decontamination process.

Hawkins was quoted as saying, “We just want a chance to show that they can perform and maintain a mussel-free process.” He went on to say that the process they are proposing is actually more stringent than the testing process used by state inspectors today for boats. According to Hawkins, seaplanes pose far less of a risk of spreading ANS than other watercraft, due to the manner in which they operate, and there has never been a seaplane known or suspected of spreading Zebra or Quagga mussels anywhere in the U.S. to date. More information can be found at

The third part of the Splash-In culminated at Kenney Reservoir. Visiting seaplanes were required to first land at the Rangely airport to be inspected for possible invasive species and then run through the decontamination process which utilizes a heated pressure-washer. Colorado State Senator Bob Rankin attended the Splash-In with his wife Joyce Rankin. Senator Rankin showed a keen interest in the inspection and decontamination process as demonstrated by Hawkins at the Rangely Airport. The Senator was also treated to a seaplane ride by one of the attendees of the Splash-In.