I just finished the article about mussels in Montana’s waters and agree that we have a problem. I do, however, disagree that it might be solvable. If the solution to preventing the spread of mussels were as simple as watercraft inspections that might be one thing. I feel the problem is much larger. What if any part do irrigators play? What of the thousands of recreationists whose clothes, tubes and other paraphernalia that never get checked? How about the waters below reservoirs and tributaries beyond? And a very big known/unknown concerning the hundreds of thousands or more waterfowl who must certainly carry the problem in their feathers as they ply Montana’s water features. What of their contribution to the mussel mess? What about the hundreds of water trucks on jobs around our state that move between projects in differing watersheds?
Methinks the millions spent trying to abate a problem that is already present might end up a colossal waste. I have read that mussels can live for five to 30 days on a dry boat depending on temperature. Many boats, mine included, might be on several bodies in that time frame; once in a while two in the same day. The mussel spreads every year even with preventative measures. The measures seem not only an uphill battle but a losing one! Canyon Ferry is infested meaning the Missouri river and all downstream is also affected. Now what?
A few years ago we went to war on invasive species of plants. How has that fared? Leafy splurge, knapweed and a host of other invasive plants are not only solidly entrenched but thriving and little is heard about them of late. Some western counties are practically ground zero for knapweed and there is little if any in budgets to even make a dent in fighting knapweed. I am guessing over time the same will be said of the mussel problem.
I feel, that like so many problems, this is a grab for fees, regulation and more taxes on an already over taxed population. I can now be criminalized for the simple act of towing a boat, whether or not it hits water.