WEEDS – Richard Reich and Doug Merchant had a piece of paradise in their neighboring lots along the Clark Fork River’s Noxon Reservoir, until a weed hitched a ride, probably on someone’s unwashed boat.
Now an infestation of Eurasian watermilfoil is so thick they can no longer swim off their docks. It fouls the propellers on their boats. Later this summer, Reich says, fish caught in the dense mats will start turning belly-up near the shore to rot and stink in the hot sun.
It has caused drownings in lakes to the west of Montana when swimmers get tangled up in the dense underwater foliage, said Heidi Sedivy, education coordinator for the Sanders County Eurasian Watermilfoil Task Force.
Not long ago, Montana and Wyoming were believed to be the last two states still free of the non-native aquatic weed. In 2007, milfoil was confirmed in Noxon and Cabinet Gorge reservoirs, although Reich says it’s been in Noxon at least seven years, and keeps getting worse.
“It most likely came from a boat that had been in Lake Pend Oreille,” just a few miles west in the Idaho panhandle, Sedivy says. “They’ve got it pretty bad over there.”
Now the state of Montana is concerned about another boater or angler inadvertently giving Eurasian watermilfoil a ride from Noxon or Cabinet Gorge to lakes such as Flathead or Whitefish, Ashley or Como, or reservoirs such as Koocanusa and Hungry Horse.
Native plant seeds available
CONSERVATION – A seed farm near Genesee, Idaho, is supplying native plant seeds to farmers and gardeners restoring native vegetation in the region.
Thorn Creek Native Seed Farm, a regular at the Moscow Food Co-Op Grower’s Market, supplies seeds for such plants as arrowleaf balsam root to replace nonnative plants such as yellow starthistle.
Wayne and Jacie Jensen started Thorn Creek three years ago after they had a hard time finding native seeds to restore some of their land that’s in a Conservation Reserve Program.
Info: (208) 596-9122.
Dworshak docks to lure visitors
CAMPING – Dworshak Reservoir mangers are trying to make the 54-mile-long reservoir on the North Fork of the Clearwater River more attractive to campers.
Use of the many boat-in campgrounds has dwindled since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began drawing down the reservoir to help flush juvenile salmon to the Pacific Ocean.
Lower water levels leave campers with a hike of 100 feet or more up a steep bank to reach the campsites.
The corps has built seven docks around the lake that include picnic tables and swimming areas to help make the waters upstream from Orofino more attractive to campers.
They’ve also been adding nutrients to the lake once a week to improve the growth on kokanee and other fish, leading to increased interest in fishing.