Eye On Boise

Invasive mussels on the move toward Idaho, the Northwest

Idaho Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, shows an Idaho license plate that was suspended in the waters of Lake Mead for nine months; it's now encrusted with invasive quagga mussels. Anderson displayed the plate during and after his address to the Idaho Environmental Forum in Boise on Tuesday. (Betsy Russell)
Idaho Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, shows an Idaho license plate that was suspended in the waters of Lake Mead for nine months; it's now encrusted with invasive quagga mussels. Anderson displayed the plate during and after his address to the Idaho Environmental Forum in Boise on Tuesday. (Betsy Russell)

North Idaho Rep. Eric Anderson's nightmare involves invasive quagga and zebra mussels slipping into Idaho's waterways and altering the very nature of the state. "It scares me, it really does scare me," said Anderson, R-Priest Lake. He was a featured speaker Tuesday at the Idaho Environmental Forum, a periodic forum on environmental issues facing the state, and he had a chilling warning: Only five states - Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming and Montana - have yet to be invaded by the tiny, fast-reproducing shellfish that chokes out native species and encrusts everything that touches the infested water. And more and more mussel-infested boats are being intercepted on the way to Idaho, with the vast majority coming from the Lake Mead area.

Two more fouled boats were caught on I-90 in North Idaho on Friday, for a total of 41 so far this year - and the summer boating season is just beginning. If mussels show up in "any waterway in the Northwest here, it's going to eventually end up in the Columbia and out to the ocean," Anderson said. "We're going to lose this whole system." You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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