Tag Archives: aquatic invasive species

Mussel-sniffing dogs find no mussels

Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin - PJ Bruno
Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin – PJ Bruno

Here’s a bit of good news from a recent Montana FWP press release . . .

Mussel-sniffing dogs from Alberta combed the shores of Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs during the past week, but found no evidence of invasive mussels. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) requested the assistance of the dog team in an attempt to identify adult zebra or quagga mussels following larval mussel detections last fall. This was part of a larger effort by FWP and other partners to survey for invasive mussels state-wide. Intensive plankton sampling, diver survey and snorkeling surveys have found no larval or adult zebra or quagga mussels this season in Montana waters.

Intensified survey and watercraft inspection this season was in response to larval mussel detections in Tiber Reservoir and a suspect detection in Canyon Ferry Reservoir last fall. This year FWP inspected more than 74,000 watercraft, with 17 intercepted transporting invasive mussels. Most of the boats intercepted with mussels were coming from the Great Lakes and were headed for Montana or other western states and provinces. The six Montana-bound mussel infested boats were decontaminated. The watercraft not bound for Montana were washed at the inspection station and the destination state was notified to allow for follow up and decontamination. Continue reading Mussel-sniffing dogs find no mussels

Wildland firefighters combat spread of invasive species

NPR’s “All Things Considered” did a segment on efforts by wildland firefighters to prevent their operations from spreading invasive species . . .

Wildland firefighters in the West are using precious time to clean equipment in order to avoid bringing invasive species into sensitive areas. It’s an attempt to avoid billions of dollars in damage.

Read more . . .

No adult invasive mussels found in Tiber Reservoir

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

This is encouraging news. A search at one of the first places in Montana to test positive for invasive mussels last year turned up no evidence of adult mussels last week.

From the press release . . .

Divers searched for adult aquatic invasive mussels at Tiber Reservoir last week, but found none.

The five divers involved in the effort were from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and coordinated by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The primary search area was Tiber Dam up to a depth of about 35 feet.

With its rock structure, the dam is good habitat for the invasive mussels, which prefer solid substances, like rocks, to attach to. However, deeper than 35 feet, silt reduced the habitat significantly.

The divers are part of FWP’s monitoring plan for Tiber Reservoir after water samples last year came back positive for aquatic invasive mussel larvae. The monitoring plan also includes an increased frequency of water sampling at the reservoir.

The divers also searched rock outcroppings around Turner Point at Tiber Reservoir. No adult invasive mussels were discovered.

More muscle needed against mussels

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

The Flathead Basin Commission wants stepped up protection against invasive mussels for Flathead Lake. (The Hungry Horse News gets credit/blame for the headline pun.) . . .

With the detection of invasive mussels last November in the Tiber Reservoir, Montana lost its status as one of the last few states free of zebra or quagga mussels.

These mussels may be small, but they cause big problems. When they hitch a ride on watercraft or in bilge water and travel between water bodies, they reproduce quickly and have a host of negative effects, including structural damage, water chemistry changes, and algal blooms.

They also rob native species of food and habitat. As the mussels infest water bodies increasingly closer to the Flathead Basin, conservation organizations are scrambling to develop new plans for prevention and management. The current state plan for managing aquatic invasive species includes three links in a “protective tripod,” as Thompson Smith, Chair of the Flathead Basin Commission called it during a meeting last week.

Read more . . .

Montana’s invasive mussel response swings into gear

Mussel-fouled Propeller - NPS photo
Mussel-fouled Propeller – NPS photo

From the official press release . . .

On April 15, Montana’s full response to the invasive mussels begins statewide with more than 30 inspection stations, decontamination stations for boats leaving Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs and a broad outreach and education effort to help ensure people recreating on Montana’s waterways are practicing clean, drain and dry techniques at all times.

The biggest changes will be seen by those recreationists at Tiber and Canyon Ferry. In March, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved rules requiring boaters on Canyon Ferry and Tiber reservoirs to launch and exit at designated boat ramps, unless they are officially certified as local boaters on those specific waters by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

While local boaters won’t be required to decontaminate their vessels with hot water each time they leave Tiber or Canyon Ferry – they’ll still be required to stop at an inspection station where they’ll be expedited through after a brief interview. The program is designed to decrease volume at decontamination stations and allow a focus on boats traveling elsewhere.

Continue reading Montana’s invasive mussel response swings into gear

Senate Natural Resources Committee approves aquatic invasive species bill

Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin - PJ Bruno
Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin – PJ Bruno

Here’s the latest on the state bill to fight invasive mussel species in Montana’s waters . . .

The Senate Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved a bill to bolster the defense against aquatic invasive mussels, which were detected in Montana waters for the first time in the state’s history last fall.

However, a proposed amendment granting full rule-making authority to the Flathead Basin Commission to oversee a local inspection program was not successful.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee on April 7 reviewed House Bill 622, a measure introduced by four Northwest Montana legislators: Republicans Mike Cuffe, of Eureka; Bob Keenan, of Bigfork; Mark Noland, of Bigfork; and Al Olszewski, of Kalispell. All 12 members of the committee voted to advance the bill to the Senate, which is scheduled to consider it April 11.

Read more . . .

Glacier to lift restrictions on hand-propelled boats with invasive species inspections this season

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

Glacier Park has decided to allow small, hand-propelled watercraft on their lakes this season, as long as they are inspected for invasive mussels. Anything with a motor or big enough to require a trailer, is prohibited while the park further evaluates the danger posed by invasive mussel species.

Possibly in response to some points raised at last month’s Interlocal Meeting, “local users who live in more remote locations” (i.e., North Forkers) can get their equipment inspected at the “nearest ranger station.”

Here is the full press release, including a useful Q&A section. It’s followed by a link to a good summary article in the Hungry Horse News . . .

Date: March 16, 2017
Contact: Office of the Superintendent, 406-888-7901

WEST GLACIER, MT. – Glacier National Park announced today that hand-propelled, non-trailered watercraft including kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards will be permitted in the park with mandatory inspection beginning May 15 for Lake McDonald and the North Fork and June 1, 2017 for all remaining areas of the park. Last November, park waters were closed to all boating as a precaution after invasive species of non-native mussels were detected in two popular Montana reservoirs east of the park.

Hand-powered boat users will be required to have their craft certified mussel-free (“clean, drained, and dry”) by Glacier staff under a new inspection program with stations in four popular locations in the park. (Local users who live in more remote locations will be directed to the nearest ranger station for inspection.) This is a change from last season, when hand-propelled watercraft required visitors to complete an AIS-free self-certification form before launching into Glacier’s lakes.

Privately owned motorized and trailered watercraft brought into the park will not be allowed to operate on Glacier’s waters this summer while a comprehensive assessment of the threat from mussels is underway. Among other measures, this will include comprehensive testing of waters in the park and elsewhere in Montana for the presence of quagga and zebra mussels. These non-native mollusks reproduce quickly and can wreak havoc with lake environments, water quality, native wildlife, lake infrastructure, and cause significant economic harm to infested regions.

Continue reading Glacier to lift restrictions on hand-propelled boats with invasive species inspections this season

Columbia River watershed is last refuge from invasive mussels

Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin - PJ Bruno
Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin – PJ Bruno

Here’s a scary wake-up call regarding invasive mussels . . .

They don’t look like much, but it’s hard to overstate the threat posed by aquatic invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels to Montana’s public waterways – and all the waterways downstream in other states. “It’s terrifying,” explained Heidi Sedivy, the program manager for the Flathead Basin Protection Fund.

During an informational talk at the nonprofit Clark Fork Coalition Wednesday, Sedivy said the Columbia River watershed is the last watershed in the lower 48 states that is currently free from nonnative zebra and quagga mussels, which originated in Eastern Europe.

Western Montana represents the headwaters of the Columbia watershed, and alarm bells all over the state were raised when mussels were detected in the Tiber Reservoir in north-central Montana late last year – meaning the entire Missouri River watershed is essentially doomed.

Read more . . .

The fate of the Flathead

Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin - PJ Bruno
Zebra Mussel Shells Cover a Lake Michigan Limestone Beach in Door County Wisconsin – PJ Bruno

Thompson Smith, chair of the Flathead Basin Commission, has an excellent op-ed in the Flathead Beacon discussing the importance of aggressive efforts to block further spread of invasive mussels throughout Montana’s waters . . .

In early November, state officials announced the first documented presence of zebra and quagga mussels in Montana, after positive tests at sites in the Missouri River system.

For the Flathead Basin, these devastating invasive species are now at our doorstep: just a few hours away for people hauling boats from Tiber Reservoir.

In coming days, our ability to protect Montana’s remaining non-infested waters will be determined by the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) legislation and rule-making now being finalized in Helena. What is emerging appears to be a far more robust AIS program, and it should be passed. But the devil is in the details. Experts point to a number of deficiencies that must be addressed.

First, it is important to understand that if invasive mussels do become established here, they would ravage both the aquatic environment and the economy. Tiny, razor-sharp shells would coat and clog every hard surface — rocks, boats, pipes, docks, dams. They could ultimately cause the collapse of native fisheries, a vital cultural resource and linchpin of the recreation industry. They would wreak havoc with irrigation systems, power facilities, and municipal water supply and treatment.

Once established, invasive mussels are virtually impossible to remove. The whole game is prevention.

Continue reading The fate of the Flathead

Montana recognizes National Invasive Species Awareness Week

From a Montana Mussel Response press release . . .

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

National Invasive Species Awareness Week comes at a unique time for Montana, as Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation continue their joint efforts to implement a plan to fight aquatic invasive mussels.

“We take the fight against invasive species in Montana very seriously and continue to be vigilant in addressing threats to Montana’s critical infrastructure, economy and recreational way of life,” said Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

NISAW runs from Feb. 27 through March 3 to raise awareness and identify solutions for invasive species at the local level. The Montana Invasive Species Advisory Council encourages Montanans to participate in local events and offers ways you can help observe.

Continue reading Montana recognizes National Invasive Species Awareness Week