MTPR

quagga mussels

Watercraft inspection station sign.
Katrin Frye

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Blackfeet tribal leaders have reopened some reservation waters to motorized boats after approving new regulations in response to the threat of aquatic invasive mussels.

The Flathead Beacon reported last week that motorized crafts are limited to four lakes (Duck, St. Mary, Mission and Four Horn lakes).

A fisherman hooks a big one on the Clark Fork River.
Josh Burnham

Montana anglers will now have to purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass — even if they've already bought a fishing license for 2017 — as part of a program passed by the Legislature and signed into law Thursday.

The passes are expected to generate $3.2 million dollars per year to be used in the fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS) that threaten the health of the state's waters.

Georgia Smies, an aquatic biologist for the Flathead Tribes, plays a game about the impacts of aquatic invasive species with students from Lolo
Nicky Ouellet

This week, the shore of the lower Flathead River west of Ronan is the biggest classroom in Montana. Fourth and fifth graders from across western Montana are here for the River Honoring, an annual event hosted by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, where they learn about the plants and animals native to the reservation.

Jim Elser, director of the Flathead Biological Research Station, answers questions at a public meeting on aquatic invasive mussels.
Nicky Ouellet

Zebra and quagga mussels are aquatic invasive species, quick to colonize and very difficult to get rid of. They’ve caused millions of dollars of damage since they started popping up in Great Lake states in the 1980s, and they have a lot of people in the Flathead Valley concerned right now.

National Parks Service (PD)

Even one confirmed detection of quagga or zebra mussels could have devastating economic and environmental consequence for the Flathead Reservation. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are mounting a campaign to prevent that from happening.

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