Tag Archives: zebra mussels

Montana releases strategy to detect, contain and control invasive mussels

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

Montana has a plan to step up efforts to fight invasive mussels. Now, they need to get it funded . . .

The Montana Mussel Response Team has released its $10.2 million strategy to combat the threat of invasive zebra and quagga mussels and is urging the Montana Legislature to help fund the two-year plan.

The plan, called the Invasive Mussel Framework Implementation Strategy Recommendations, marks a shift from the team’s initial emergency response to the detection of mussel larvae in the state to an implementation strategy to detect, contain and control the invaders if they take hold.

Developed by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, the plan recommends doubling the number of inspection stations on roads leading into the state from 17 to 34 in an effort to intercept infected watercraft before boats are launched, while adding four new decontamination stations.

Read more . . .

Montana looks to spend $10 million fighting invasive mussels

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

Montana needs to spend some real money fighting invasive mussels . . .

The Montana Mussel Response team set out a proposed budget to state lawmakers Monday for invasive mussel control in Montana, with a price tag of about $10.2 million for the next two years.

The funding proposal calls for decontamination stations at infested waterways, doubling the number of inspection stations across the state from 17 to 34 and increasing the number of annual water samples to 1,500 at 206 water bodies. The plan would also fund education and outreach efforts and strengthen the state’s overall effort.

About half the cost could be covered by federal matching grants. It will be up to lawmakers to actually fund the measure.

Read more . . .

Invasive mussels pose big threat to Montana’s waters

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

Late last Fall, waters in the Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoirs tested positive for invasive mussel larvae. Montana officials reacted quickly, closing boating access at both locations and initiating the removal of underwater structures for inspection. Later, the Milk River near Malta and the Missouri River near York’s Islands Fishing Access Site south of Townsend also showed evidence of possible infestation by zebra and quagga mussels, triggering further responses to the threat.

Glacier National Park immediately closed all its waters to boating,. A close reading of their press release indicates public boating access may well be restricted throughout the 2017 season.

Leaders of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes declared an emergency and called for the formation of an incident management team to deal with the issue as it applies to Flathead Lake.

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

The Flathead Basin Commission, the River to Lake Initiative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and a number of other other organizations and federal agencies have all expressed alarm and called for further action.

Why all the uproar? Because invasive mussels cause huge damage to waterways, equipment  and fish populations. Once established, they are impossible to remove completely. Mussels are filter feeders, gobbling up the plankton that form the base of the food chain for native fish. Mussels have been known to reduce available plankton by 70 to 80 percent in some waters.

First detected in the Great Lakes less than 30 years ago, mussels now have a foothold in 29 states. In most cases, they were spread by hitching rides on poorly cleaned private watercraft. So, any positive detection anywhere in the state is a big deal.

Further reading: The Flathead Beacon has an excellent article on invasive mussels (kudos to Dillon Tabish for putting it together). The distribution map at the bottom is pretty scary, by the way.

Possible invasive mussel detection in Missouri River

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

Uh, oh. More evidence of invasive mussel species in Montana’s waters . . .

Preliminary test results have indicated another possible detection of mussel larvae south of Canyon Ferry Reservoir in the Missouri River, although additional lab work is needed to confirm the detection.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Greg Lemon said Monday evening that a water sample taken from the York Islands fishing access south of Townshend was found to be “suspect” during initial testing by state scientists. He said additional testing is needed to confirm whether the sample contained larvae from zebra or quagga mussels, two species of invasive mussel known to multiply aggressively and generate costly damage to aquatic ecosystems and infrastructure.

The finding comes about two weeks after mussel larvae, known as “veligers,” were confirmed for the first time in Montana waters at Tiber Reservoir. Another sample taken from upstream in Canyon Ferry was inconclusive, but a visual microscopy test indicated the veligers were present in that water body as well.

Read more . . .

Official Montana FWP press release: Samples from Missouri River, south of Townsend, suspect for mussel larva

For additional background: Montana on High Alert After Mussel Discovery (Flathead Beacon)

Flathead Basin Commission wants more boating closures due to invasive mussel threat

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

Regional officials are not happy about the recent detection of invasive mussels in Montana’s Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoirs . . .

A group tasked with protecting the aquatic resources of the Flathead River drainage is urging state officials to close the Canyon Ferry and Tiber reservoirs to all boats as evidence mounts that both of the Central Montana water bodies now harbor invasive mussels.

The Flathead Basin Commission is including the closure recommendations in a letter to Gov. Steve Bullock, drafted last week at the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station. It was the commission’s first meeting after the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Nov. 9 announcement that the long-feared presence of invasive mussels had been confirmed in Tiber Reservoir — the first such detection in the state.

Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Nation both closed all their waters to boating within days of the state’s announcement and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service followed suit by closing a popular recreation pond that supplies water to its hatchery in Creston.

Read more . . .

Also read:
Consequences of invasive mussels could prove costly (Daily Inter Lake)
Invasive Mussel Larvae Found for First Time in U.S. Northwest (Flathead Beacon)

Interim closure issued for all boating within Glacier National Park

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

For the first time, invasive mussel larvae have been detected in Montana waters. In response, Glacier Park has immediately shut down boating in the park while they double check everything.

Here’s the meat of the official press release . . .

In response to the recent detection of invasive mussel populations in central Montana, Glacier National Park is issuing an interim boating closure within all park waters, in accordance with the park’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Action Plan. The closure includes both motorized and hand propelled watercraft.

The 2014 plan calls for this immediate closure when invasive mussels are detected within a waterway in the State of Montana, as was announced on November 9 by Montana Fish Wildlife, and Parks.

The park will begin an assessment period to conduct testing, inspect park boats, and evaluate the risk boats pose to park waters and waters downstream from the unintended introduction of invasive mussels. The assessment will likely include the evaluation of further tests of waters across the State of Montana during the summer of 2017. The closure will remain in place during the assessment period, which will extend until the nature of the threat is better understood.

“Park scientists will work diligently with the State of Montana and other water quality experts to understand the scope of this threat, and identify steps the park will take to further protect our waters in the Crown of the Continent,” said park superintendent Jeff Mow.

Glacier National Park sits at the top of three continental scale watersheds. Water from the park drains into the Columbia, Missouri, and South Saskatchewan Basins. Protecting park waters from an infestation is important not only for the park’s ecosystem, but also to economic and ecological interests downstream.

Beginning in 2011, the park initiated a mandatory boat inspection and launch permit program to reduce the risk of infestation of park waters by invasive mussels. Since that time, approximately 1,000 motorized boat permits were issued annually. The park also required self-inspection and AIS-free certification of non-motorized watercraft. These boats come from many states across the country, including those with established populations of invasive mussels.

In 2016, launch permits were issued to boats registered in 13 mussel positive states following inspection.

See also: Invasive Mussel Larvae Found in Montana Reservoir (Flathead Beacon)

Aquatic invasive species an ongoing problem

It’s that time of year when locals and tourists are out and about in large numbers, many of them in boats and rafts. This, in turn, makes the spread of aquatic invasive species a big concern. Here’s the official press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks . . .

This summer, remember that state law requires all motorists hauling watercraft – from trailers with motorboats or inflatable rafts to canoes and kayaks perched atop cars and pick-up trucks – to stop at inspection stations.

As part of the state’s aquatic invasive species prevention program, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has 17 well-marked watercraft inspection stations set up around the state that will be in operation through September.

The annual education and enforcement effort, which this year includes multiple chances to win prizes from an array of local sponsors, is to further curb the risk of aquatic invasive species from attaining a foothold in Montana waters.

“One of Montana’s best defenses against spreading invasive species while enjoying the outdoors is to inspect, clean, drain and dry boats, trailers, and fishing gear after each use,” said Tom Boos, FWP’s AIS coordinator in Helena. “We can control the spread of these invasive plant and animal species if we don’t carry them from one water to the next.”

Montana law requires private motorists and outfitters and guides hauling watercraft – including motorboats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes, rowboats, rafts, jet skis and even small kick boats popular among some anglers – to always stop at AIS watercraft inspection stations for a brief interview and equipment check. Most inspections take fewer than five minutes, but failure to stop could lead to a $135 fine.

Montana’s “Inspect – Clean – Dry” slogan draws attention to a national problem threatening to take root in the West – aquatic hitchhikers. These non-native, destructive, and highly prolific AIS include harmful aquatic plants, animals, fish, and microscopic organisms, which include everything from invasive zebra mussels to whirling disease.

AIS can be easily transported from water to water by popular recreational activities like fishing and boating.

“If boaters and anglers get into the ‘inspect, clean, drain and dry’ habit we’ll be able to decrease the number of troubling and expensive introductions of harmful species in Montana,” Boos said.

To learn more, visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov, then click “Inspect – Clean – Dry.”

Aquatic invasive species still a threat

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels – via Wikipedia

Montana FWP’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program is holding the line, but still worried about the introduction to the state of a number of aquatic invasive species . . .

The bad news is that inspection crews are turning up illegal live fish and nonnative species across Montana. The good news is no evidence of zebra mussels has yet been found.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s aquatic invasive species liaison, Linnaea Schroeer, reported this news in an annual message on FWP’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program.

FWP operated 20 seasonal watercraft inspection stations across the state, along with roving crews. More than 34,000 boats were inspected in 2014, and thousands of people were educated about the impacts of invasive species, she said.

Read more . . .

Glacier Park continues aquatic invasive species prevention program

Glacier Park continues its aggressive efforts to prevent aquatic invasive species from infesting their waterways. Here’s the meat of the press release . . .

Glacier National Park continues its boat inspection and permit program this summer as part of an ongoing aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention program. Aquatic invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels, continue to threaten park waterways. Recently established mussel populations in the southwest present new threats to park waters, as mussel-positive boats from that region have been intercepted in the northwest.

Motorized and trailered watercraft must have a thorough boat inspection by a park employee upon every entry to the park. A free permit is issued after the inspection, which may take up to 30 minutes, depending on the complexity of the boat. A boat may launch multiple times provided the boat does not leave the park between launches. To receive a permit, boats must be clean, drained and thoroughly dry (including bilge areas and livewells) upon inspection. Boats with internal ballast tanks or other enclosed compartments that exchange water with the environment and that cannot be readily cleaned, dried, and fully inspected are prohibited from launching in Glacier National Park.

Hand-propelled watercraft (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rafts, catarafts) being launched within the park are required to obtain an AIS-free self-certification permit. The permit is free, completed by the boater, and is required upon each entry to the park. The permit must remain with boaters while they are floating. It is available at all park visitor centers, backcountry permit offices, park headquarters, and at maintained boat launches. Visitors can download the permit before entering the park at, http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/ais.htm.

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Preliminary results in for year’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program

Montana FWP released early numbers for this year’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program . . .

Preliminary results from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Aquatic Invasive Species Program show that 17 stations across the state inspected 30,376 watercraft and 367 failed.

That included 26,224 in-state and 4,152 out-of-state watercraft as of Sept. 30. Most of FWP’s roadside inspection stations closed after Labor Day, but several stayed open a few weeks later.

The violations broke down to 234 watercraft with vegetation that wasn’t Eurasian milfoil, 79 with standing water, 37 with Eurasian milfoil, 13 with zebra or quagga mussels, 10 with marine organisms and six with illegal bait.

Read more . . .