Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, took on the nickname “Morty Milfoil” the last couple of years as he pushed to address the invasive Eurasian water milfoil that’s infesting Idaho’s lakes and waterways. Now, Anderson is concerned about a new menace: Quagga mussels. The thumbnail-sized mussels are “all over the east coast,” Anderson said, but he’s a member of the 100th Meridian Initiative, a group that’s pushed to prevent the spread of the troublesome mussel past the 100th meridian into the western half of the country. However, in January of 2007, one tiny quagga mussel was found at a marina at Lake Mead. “Four months later, they were in the hundreds of millions,” Anderson said. The mussels attach themselves to surfaces, like boat hulls, rocks and ropes. They reproduce so quickly that they can clog irrigation pipes and water intakes, and they compete for food with other critters like salmon fry, upsetting the whole food chain.
“This makes milfoil look like a dinner salad,” Anderson said. “This is critical. I honestly believe this is the biggest ecological and environmental threat we’ve ever faced. It’s a death sentence to so many of our ecosystems – they will dominate.”
Anderson’s pushing for Idaho to do what Washington did last year – impose strict controls to prevent the spread of the mussel, including stiff fines for knowingly transporting it. Anderson said Idaho may need wash stations so people can wash their boats with hot water, which kills the mussels, before and after boating.