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Stakeholders Share Invasive Mussel Strategies At 'Unprecedented' Upper Columbia Basin Meeting

FWP has inspected more than 23,000 watercraft as part of its effort to keep the mussels, which can cause millions of dollars of damage to hydropower dams and irrigation systems, out of Montana’s waterways.
Katrin Frye
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Managers from the state, tribes, Canadian provinces and lake associations met Monday and Tuesday to explain how they run their aquatic invasive species programs.

Agencies responding to the discovery of invasive mussels in two Montana reservoirs east of the continental divide last year are working to better align their prevention programs.

Managers from the state, tribes, Canadian provinces and lake associations met Monday and Tuesday to explain how they run their aquatic invasive species programs.

The two-day Aquatic Invasive Species Watercraft Inspection & Monitoring Workshop was co-sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission, or UC3 for short.

“We’re beginning to lean on one another and trust one another in ways that we haven’t before,” Curtis said.

Lori Curtis is the chairperson of the UC3, a group created by the Montana Legislature to protect the headwaters of the Columbia River from the advance of invasive species.

She says managers are looking for ways to streamline data sharing, set common protocols for boat inspections and generally get on the same page before boating season starts next March.

Curtis says there’s still a lot of work to do, but called the meeting unprecedented.

“It’s really the most exciting thing that we can have in our fight against aquatic invasive species right now,” she said.

The Upper Columbia Conservation Commission will next meet on January 24 in the north Flathead Valley.

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