MTPR

Aquatic Invasive Species

A view from the depths of Flathead Lake.
David Colombo / Innerspace Science

There was something odd bubbling beneath the surface of Flathead Lake earlier this summer, but it wasn’t a lake monster. It was a submarine. Two, in fact. The subs' pilots were there to help cash-strapped researchers physically see the mostly unexplored depths of Flathead Lake for the unforgettable price of free.

An aquatic invasive species inspection station in Montana.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

A coalition of state, federal, tribal and private organizations dedicated to protecting the Columbia River Watershed from aquatic invasive species (AIS) met in Polson Wednesday. They said building connections between local groups and water managers will be crucial to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels in Montana.

A boat at the Flathead Lake Biological Station.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

The Flathead Lake Biological Station added a new monitoring site in Polson Bay last month that could help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and generate valuable information about the ecosystem.

Jim Elser, director of the Station, says near Polson the lake is shallower and warmer than at the other monitoring station, and sees different kinds of use.

Watercraft Inspection Station
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Legislature last week tweaked the way it raises money to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels in Montana waterways. The budget to do so remained about the same, but who’s paying for it changed a little.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing to remove non-native smallmouth bass from Gallatin Valley ponds. The agency says the Midwestern fish could spread to other water bodies — including the blue-ribbon lower Madison River — and drastically reduce trout populations.

Hybridization between westslope cutthroat trout and non-native rainbow trout in Glacier National Park. Green = westslope cutthroat genes. Red = rainbow trout genes.
National Parks Service

Glacier National Park released an environmental assessment Friday for a proposal to kill off non-native fish in a remote area. Biologists say that could help fortify native species against the threats of climate change, invasive species and habitat loss.

Fisheries biologists checking for adult invasive mussels.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

State legislators are considering giving counties greater powers for managing aquatic invasive species.

House Bill 402 would allow counties to adopt local ordinances aimed at preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, levy taxes for vertebrate and invertebrate pest management and allow counties within the Columbia River Basin to quarantine lakes.

Watercraft inspections are used to prevent aquatic invasive species, like quagga and zebra mussels, from spreading into Montana's lakes and streams.
Courtesy Montana FWP

State and tribal agencies are opening up mandatory watercraft inspection stations this week. They’re preparing for the influx of spring and summer boaters from near and far. Watercraft inspections are used to prevent aquatic invasive species, like quagga and zebra mussels, from spreading into Montana's lakes and streams.

House Bill 608 would establish a $50 fee for boats with ballasts or bladders to undergo a mandatory decontamination each time they enter the state or cross the Continental Divide into the Columbia River basin.
(PD)

State legislators are considering requiring mandatory decontamination for wakeboarding boats, and having boat owners pay for the procedure.

House Bill 608 would establish a $50 fee for boats with ballasts or bladders to undergo a mandatory decontamination each time they enter the state or cross the Continental Divide into the Columbia River basin.

Hearing room at the Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Anglers, boaters, farmers and conservationists are all backing a new proposal at the state Legislature to spend $6.5 million fighting aquatic invasive species, but they disagree over who should foot the bill. The measure had its first hearing Monday.

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