Starting in about a month, anyone pulling a boat into Idaho will have to pull over at a port of entry for inspection and possible decontamination, in an effort to keep invasive quagga and zebra mussels out of the state. Top state officials approved emergency measures today including nearly a dozen such inspection stations around the state, with one to be at Huetter on I-90 between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. The $1.8 million in emergency measures also will include a statewide billboard campaign, education and outreach, signs on highways and boat ramps, and monitoring and enforcement. But most of the money will be spent on inspection and decontamination, to stop the fast-spreading, thumbnail-sized shellfish from turning Idaho’s lakes, reservoirs and beaches into shell-encrusted wastelands. That’s been the fate of numerous sites around the Great Lakes in Michigan, and the mussels in the past year have been spotted as far west as Utah and Nevada.
“We’re trying to get some of this put together as soon as we can, before we get too far into the boating season,” Lloyd Knight, administrator of the plant industries division at the state Department of Agriculture, told the state Board of Examiners today. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who chairs the Board of Examiners, said the emergency measures are warranted. “The estimate right now is about $92 million bucks if we do nothing and just allow this very aggressive species to come in,” he said. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.