MTPR

Flathead Lake Biological Station

Aaron Bolton

Flathead Lake continues to defy national trends as a healthy blue body of water that’s free of invasive mussels. That’s according to the director of the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station, who gave his annual state of the lake address Friday. 

A safety diver starts a Go-Pro camera on the Nekton Gamma before it dives in Yellow Bay on the east side of Flathead Lake August 5, 2019.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

Boaters on Flathead Lake might see a strange sight this week: small submarines surfacing at various locations. The subs are diving in an effort to help researchers at the Flathead Biological Station reach unexplored depths. 

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.

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.

Flathead Lake Biological Station.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

The University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station is asking businesses in the area to help fund its work.

Proceeds from the drive that starts Monday will benefit research and monitoring on Flathead, Whitefish, and Swan lakes, and the surrounding watersheds.

Hans McPherson at his ranch in the Bitterroot Valley.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

A new federal rule that would roll back Clean Water Act protections across the country opened for public comment last week. If finalized, the rule would abandon enhanced protections the Obama administration proposed for a large portion of Montana’s stream mileage and wetlands.

FLBS visiting researcher Xiong Xiong collects samples to look for microplastics in Flathead Lake. He is using methods similar to his Yangtze River research project to determine microplastic concentrations in the Flathead Lake watershed.
Heather Fraley / FLBS

Plastics like the fibers in t-shirts and the abrasive beads in body wash are polluting rivers more than previously thought, according to researchers from the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station.

The Flathead Lake Biological Station held it's 2018 open house on August 3.
Flathead Lake Biological Station

Flathead Lake remains healthy, mussel-free and blue, according to the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station. MTPR's Nicky Ouellet reports from the station’s open house.
 
Station Director Jim Elser says across the board, data indicate Flathead Lake is in good health.

That green and brown gunk is a mix of algae, plankton and bits of genetic material that hold the answer to whether Flathead Lake has mussels in it. One sample comes from 9 meters deep, the other from the surface.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Thursday announced it detected additional evidence of invasive mussels in one eastern Montana reservoir last summer. The detection raises a few red flags.

FWP found microscopic invasive baby mussels in Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs for the first time in the fall of 2016. But the state agency and its partners didn’t find any last summer.

Phil Matson collects a water sample from Flathead Lake for use in e-DNA testing for quagga and zebra mussels.
Nicky Ouellet

Wherever you go, you leave behind a tiny trace of yourself, a fingerprint even smaller than a cell that says you were here. Every organism does this, including the invasive quagga and zebra mussels the state is trying to keep out of Montana. This summer, a team of scientists in the Flathead Valley is using cutting-edge technology to detect the mussels’ genetic fingerprints sooner. They say early detection may offer the only hope for eradicating the mussels if they do get here.

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