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New national seed strategy aims to make burned lands more resilient

Even as fires ravage landscapes across the west, restoration crews already are on the ground amid the smoke, starting work on plans to reseed and rehabilitate the burned wildlands. “There’s an urgent need,” said Tim Murphy, Idaho state director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

That need has prompted an array of federal and state agencies to partner with hundreds of groups, from commercial seed producers to garden clubs, research universities to ranchers, to launch a new “National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration” today, aimed at not only restoring burned landscapes across the west, but making them more resilient before the next fire hits.

“It goes beyond the Great Basin,” said Steve Ellis, deputy director of the BLM in Washington, D.C. “This is for the whole country. It can be applied in areas where we have lost natural vegetation from hurricanes and other natural disasters.” Ellis, who started his career as a forester 36 years ago in Idaho, flew over the giant Soda Fire in southern Idaho yesterday with fire and land management officials. “The conversation in the aircraft immediately went to rehabilitation,” he said. “We want to get on the ground even before the smoke clears.”

But it’s not as simple as just replanting. Invasive species, like cheatgrass and medusa head, move in after fires, and can choke out native plants. Scientists and seed producers are working on identifying just the right native seeds for the specific location, elevation and climate to plant in each location, and when the ideal window is for the native plants to grow instead of giving way to the invaders. “We’ve oftentimes had shortages of certain types of seed,” Ellis said. “You really have a window to get that seed in the ground.”

The new strategy is aimed at coordinating a nationwide network of native seed collectors, farmers and growers, nurseries, seed storage facilities and restoration ecologists. Officials gathered at a giant BLM seed storage warehouse in Boise on Monday to announce the strategy; the warehouse has nearly 800,000 pounds of precisely targeted native seed stacked to the ceiling in huge bags, ready to send out to specific fire locations. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Tribes, state netting pike in Lake Roosevelt near Kettle River

FISHING — Indian tribes and the state have moved ahead with gillnet surveys to get a handle on how well-established invasive northern pike have become in the upper reaches of Lake Roosevelt and the Columbia River.

The research stems from a spike in catches of non-native pike by sport fishermen this year.

Among the bad news the research has turned up so far in the Kettle River area:

  • At least three year-classes of northern pike have been found, which means they could be finding places to spawn and take hold.
  • Here's a video update by KING 5 TV.

Bowhunting for northern pike illegal in Washington

UPDATED 5:50 p.m.

FISHING — Warning: It's illegal to take northern pike with bow and arrow in Washington and Idaho.

In a post yesterday about northern pike suppression planned for Lake Roosevelt, I reported that a few bowhunters were targeting northern pike where the predators are showing up in notable numbers and sizes near Kettle Falls.

That's true, but I should have said that it's illegal, as Marc Divens, WDFW warmwater fisheries biologist pointed out by email.

While Washington fish managers don't want northern pike in the Columbia system — and there's no minimum size limit and no daily limit on them — pike are still not totally open to annihilation in Washington.

It's pretty much illegal to use bow and arrow for anything other than CARP in Washington. 

Page 12 of the 2015 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet says:

You May Not …fish for Game Fish, salmon, shad,
sturgeon or shellfish with bow and arrow or spear.

However, a devil can always be lurking in the details. Reading the fine print of the regs specific to Lake Roosevelt (page 93), it's unlawful to fish for CARP with bow and arrow in Lake Roosevelt.

Northern pike were recently reclassified from "Game Fish" to "Prohibited Species" status in Washington by the Fish and Wildlife Commission after pike numbers increased in the Pend Orielle, Divens said.

"Basically, this was a decision at the policy level to indicate that Washington State was not interested in welcoming northern pike into the state, mostly due to concerns with the possibility of moving downstream into the Columbia River where they could pose a threat to salmon and steelhead recovery efforts."

The WDFW Webpage for northern pike says:

In April 2011, public meetings were conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Kalispel Tribe Natural Resources Department (KNRD) to solicit feedback on the findings to that point and the plan going forward. Also, as a result of the numbers of Northern Pike captured, plus their spawning and predatory habits, the WDFW Commission voted to reclassify Northern Pike as a Prohibited Species in Washington.

Under this designation:

  • anglers may harvest pike under WDFW sport fishing rules, with no minimum size and no daily or possession limit;
  • pike must be killed before leaving the water in which they are caught;
  • the release of live Northern Pike into other waters is strictly prohibited.

"We want people to catch them, kill them and not move them around," Divens said.

Newman Lake boat access closing for weed control

BOATING — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife public access site at Newman Lake will be closed June 3-5 to allow treatment of the lake with herbicide to control Eurasian milfoil and other aquatic invasive weeds. 

The Newman Lake Flood Control Zone District, under permit from the Washington Department of Ecology, has hired Aqua Technex to treat milfoil infestations on about 80 acres throughout  the 1,200-acre lake with 2-4-D (dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, dimethylamine salt).  

 A swimming restriction will be in force during treatment and for 24 hours after treatment.  Boating and swimming will be discouraged the day of treatment and for two days after.  Signs with that information will be posted. The boating restriction is needed because wave action reduces the herbicide’s effectiveness.

 Karen Kruger, Spokane County Water Resources Technician, says last summer’s aquatic weed treatment at Newman Lake went well, thanks in part to volunteer efforts to help keep boaters out of the herbicide application area.

 Aquatic herbicide application permits authorized by Ecology include requirements and restrictions to protect fish and wildlife.

 WDFW lands manager Brian Trickel said the gates to the area will be closed early on Tuesday, June 3, and re-opened early on Friday, June 6.

 Newman Lake is about 20 miles northeast of Spokane, about two miles west of the Idaho border, and is open year-round for fishing. 

Learn to distinguish Eurasian collared-dove from mourning dove

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The Eurasian collared-dove is an exotic species that's unprotected in Washington and Idaho and can be shot by licensed hunters year-round where hunting/shooting is allowed. They're delicious, too.

But it's important to be able to distinguish the collared-dove from the similar mourning dove, which can be hunted only during designated September seasons.

Eurasian collared-doves are larger than mourning doves and slightly lighter in color. Aside from the diagnostic black collar on the backs of their necks, they also have a squared tail as opposed to the pointed tails on mourning doves.

See more diagnostic features and listen to recordings that distinguish their different calls at the following Websites:

  • Eurasian collared-dove, click here.
  • Mourning dove, click here.

Idaho checks first quagga-mussel infested boat of season

BOATING — Mandatory watercraft inspection stations have barely opened for the season in Idaho, and they already have reported finding the year's first boat fouled with quagga mussels, a potentially devastating invasive species.

The boat was checked at the Cotterell Port of Entry station on Interstate 84 near Burley. 

The program aims to inspect boats that are entering the region from mussel-infested states. The boat intercepted at the Cotterell inspection station recently spent time in Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  Lake Powell, operated by the National Park Service, recently was identified as infested with quagga and zebra mussels. 

The National Park Service still does not require decontamination of watercraft leaving its facilities with mussel infestations, even though it means possible introduction of these invasive species to the clean waters of the Pacific Northwest. This also indicates that potentially infested boats are being transported outside of the traditional boating season, which is a concern for Pacific Northwest states.

Since Idaho initiated its watercraft inspection program in 2009, nearly 200,000 boats have been inspected. About 100 mussel-fouled boats have been intercepted and decontaminated before they launched into Pacific Northwest waters, the Idaho Department of Agriculture reports.

“Idaho’s watercraft inspection program underscores the importance of preventing these mussels from becoming established in Idaho’s waters,” Agriculture Director Celia Gould said. “All of Idaho’s waterbodies have tested negative for these species, but they have been found in waters of other western states, and are causing severe economic and environmental harm in other regions of the country. We continue to work with our regional partners to prevent these fouled boats from launching in Pacific Northwest waters.

"Catching mussel-fouled boats so early in the season is a real wake up call. The more the public is educated about these invaders, the more enthusiastic and vigilant they are in joining efforts to keep them out of the Pacific Northwest.”

Idaho law requires all boaters must stop at the stations, such as the one on Interstate 90 near Fourth of July Pass.

Watercraft inspectors are looking for high-risk boats that have been in quagga- and zebra-mussel impacted waters such as Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Lake Havasu and Lake Pleasant.

If you have launched in a mussel-infested waterbody in the last 30 days, you must have an inspection before you launch in Idaho. For a complete list of infested waters, a five-year summary of inspection efforts, and a list of Idaho inspection stations, see: www.invasivespecies.idaho.gov

  • To schedule a free inspection, call (877) 336-8676 .

Read on for recommendations for boaters:

Noxious weeds workshop March 22 at Usk

HABITAT — Weed control on private lands is important to everyone with an interest in wildlife and wild lands.

Property owners can find out how to manage weeds and sign up for neighborhood cost-share assistance on Saturday, March 22, at a workshop offered by WSU Pend Oreille County Extension and the Pend Oreille County Weed Board. 

This annual event, the Weeds, Neighbors and Cinnamon Rolls Workshop, will be held at Camas Center for Community Wellness, 1821 N. LeClerc Rd, Usk, WA from 8:30 am-2:30 pm.  Thanks to sponsorship by Kalispel Tribe Department of Natural Resources, Centaurea, Inc, and Wilber-Ellis Company there is no admission charge, but participants are asked to pre-register by phoning 447-2401 or emailing lnichols@pendoreille.org  to reserve handouts, lunch, and their share of locally-produced refreshments.

Speakers for the workshop include Jon Paul Driver of WSU Western Risk Management Education on composting and weed management; Joel Fields of Wilber Ellis Company on pasture and hay weeds;  Matt Berger with Kalispel Department of Natural Resources on herbicide resistance and new aquatic weeds;  Aaron Brown of Washington State Department of Agriculture on pesticide licensing: and Sharon Sorby, Jan Rice and Loretta Nichols, Pend Oreille County Weed Board staff on tools and strategies for noxious weed management.

Class participants will receive their 2014 Neighborhood Cost Share application early. Four recertification credits are available for both Washington and Idaho pesticide applicator license holders. 

See program information and a full agenda.

Invasive mussels knocking on Idaho’s door, official says

INVASIVE SPECIES — Having the invasive quagga mussels booming in Utah's Lake Powell is like having a deadly contagious disease at a major national airport with folks coming and going in all directions — including Idaho, a federal biologist says.

He's trying to get the word out before boaters flood out of Idaho to Utah for spring break.

Here's the story from Rob Thornberry of the Idaho Falls Post Register:

With Utah finding more quagga mussels in Lake Powell, the likelihood they will find their way to Idaho is increasing, said Lee Mabey, a forest fisheries biologist with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Having the mussels in Lake Powell is like having a deadly contagious disease at a major national airport with folks coming and going in all directions, including Idaho, Mabey said. The rate of spread of the mussels could be very rapid now that Lake Powell is infected.

Mabey is trying to raise awareness of the problem before people travel south for spring break.

Data from the Idaho Department of Agriculture’s five years of boat inspections indicates Lake Powell is the most frequently visited mussel-fouled water body by Idaho boaters. Many of these vessels have been out of the water less than 30 days at the time they are inspected, posing a significant risk of transporting larval or adult mussels to the Gem State.

In 2013, Idaho inspected 568 boats that had recently come from Mead, Powell, Mohave, Havasu or Pleasant lakes. All those waters have mussels.

Idaho does not, and officials are keen on keeping it that way.

If quagga or zebra mussels take hold in Idaho, the state’s lake fisheries will be forever changed and the irrigation and hydropower industry could face millions of dollars in added expenses. Undoubtedly these expenses will be passed on to the consumer, Mabey said.

Quagga mussels are prolific breeders and attach themselves to hard and soft surfaces. Once in a lake, they filter plankton from the water, robbing fish of food.

“If we get these mussels in our lakes, it is going to turn the ecology upside down,” Mabey said. “Our fish populations would crash. It is simple biology — a lake only supports so much biomass. You can have plankton and fish or you can have plankton and mussels.”

Mabey encourages all anglers and boaters to take the threat seriously and learn about proper precautions to keep the marauders out of Idaho.

  • Click here for more information on steps boaters can take to prevent spread of invasive mussels. 

“We need everybody to take part in prevention,” he said. “We can’t rely on just inspection stations. We need to have a change in mentality of all users. Just like anglers have adopted catch-and-release regulation, we need boaters and all water users to adopt clean, drain and dry after each excursion.”

Jordan Nielson, a Madison High School graduate, is the aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. He said government agencies are doing well to slow the spread of mussels, but those efforts will be wasted if boaters don’t change their habits.

“We need a paradigm shift,” he said. “The state agency can only do so much. People have to realize they have a responsibility when they go boating to make sure they aren’t moving things around. It is essential.”

Otter offers mussel-encrusted license plate to Interior secretary

At the recent Western Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter brandished a license plate that had been soaked for a year in Lake Mead and was encrusted with invasive quagga mussels, asking Interior Secretary Sally Jewell when the Obama Administration would get inspection and contamination stations up and running at the infested lake to help halt the spread of the invasive species. BSU political science professor Justin Vaughn was in the audience, and reported that Jewell made it clear she’s aware of the issue and said she’d look into it; his full report in the Blue Review is online here. Vaughn reported that Otter offered Jewell the mussel-encrusted license plate to take back to Washington, D.C., but she declined – it’s illegal to transport invasive species.

Idaho Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, soaked 500 of the license plates in the infested lake for displays to help make the point about the threat from the mussels, which haven't yet invaded Idaho. "We'll lose so much if these get into our region," he said, adding that he was "thrilled" to see the issue take center stage so dramatically at the WGA conference.

Preventing invasive mussels worth cost, study says

INVASIVE SPECIES — An Independent Economic Advisory Board update released last week indicates that the money spent – an estimated $5 million per year from a variety of sources — in attempts to ward off an invasion of non-native zebra and quagga mussels into the Columbia River basin is money well spent.

However, the report acknowledges there's still a probability the damaging species will eventually get into the Columbia and Snake River systems and raise havoc for irrigators, municipalities and hydropower managers, not to mention boaters and anglers.

See the story from the Columbia Basin Bulletin.

Colorado pike fishing issue similar to Pend Oreille River

FISHING — This story took me back to the Pend Oreille River about 10 years ago…

Northern pike have made their way into the Upper Colorado River
Utah has already put a $20 bounty on northern pike, the toothy adversary of a healthy trout population, and with a confirmed catch of the invasive predator—and, unfortunately, its live release into the Colorado River at Pumphouse Recreation Area, Colorado should consider a similar program to rid the waters of pike—which have no place in the Colorado River.

A column by Scott Willoughby, Denver Post; Aug. 7

Pull together: volunteers needed to check weeds at Mount Spokane

STATE PARKS — A group of volunteers from various local groups  — more are needed! — are meeting Wednesday in an effort to curb the spread of knapweed in Mount Spokane State Park.

To join the group, wear good boots and meet at 10 a.m. at the hairpin turn parking lot inside the park at the Mount Kit Carson Loop Road trailhead.

Bags will be provided but bring gloves and whatever else you need to be comfortable working outdoors in the sun (water, hat, sun glasses, snacks/lunch, sun screen etc).  A small spade or old screwdriver might also help. 

The group plans to work for a couple hours, break for lunch and then perhaps hike the park trails in the afternoon.

Read on for details about spotted knapweed from from the Spokane County Weed Board:

Preventing spread of invasive species: Take it personally

ENVIRONMENT — Anglers wading in rock snot or hikers walking through fields of spotted knapweed should be easy converts to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new campaign to raising awareness of invasive species.

Native plant and wildlife species suffer the most from invasions of exotics.

If everyone chips in, the costly battle against a long list of invasives could be more effective.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has summarized the campaign in "Seven Simple Steps” to leave invasive pests – non-native insects, other animals, plants and diseases that feed on America’s crops, trees and plants – behind.

The national “watch list” has been expanded to include 15 of the most damaging “Hungry Pests” that can cause havoc with our native flora and fauna.

Invasive bug turns up in Ada, Kootenai counties, threatens turf, gardens, trees, crops

A new invasive insect has turned up in Ada and Kootenai counties, prompting warnings from the state Department of Agriculture. The Japanese beetle, a half-inch-long, shiny metallic-green bug with copper-brown wing covers, destroys trees, rose bushes, stone fruits, garden and field crops, and its larvae or grubs destroy turf by feeding on the roots of grass. If you seen green and yellow traps, that's what they're for; Ag is also asking anyone who finds one of the bugs to place the dead specimen in a baggie and mail it in - there's more info here. The beetle first was introduced to the United States in plants imported from Japan.

Idaho, Oregon, Washington urge residents to ‘squeal’ on invasive feral pigs

Idaho, Oregon and Washington have jointly launched a "Squeal on Pigs" campaign to combat the latest invasive species - feral swine - that's turned up in all three states. Originating in Europe and Asia and imported for domestic use, the wild pigs, also known as the Russian boar, can grow to several hundred pounds and cause extensive damage to crops, wildlife and habitat; the three states' invasive species councils want folks to be on the lookout for the swine in the wild and report them if seen.

It's not just their destructive rooting and grubbing. Feral swine, defined as any pig that is not confined within a fenced property, often carry diseases that may be transmitted to livestock or humans; they prey on lambs, calves, fawns, upland birds and other wildlife; and they're remarkably fertile, producing a couple of litters of four to eight piglets a year and traveling long distances to invade new watersheds. Oregon has the most of the three states right now - 3,000 to 5,000 - and the Northwest states don't want to end up like heavily infested Texas, which sees more than $50 million a year in damage from feral swine.

"We don't know who brought 'em in or how they came," said Amy Ferriter, Idaho's invasive species council coordinator. "That's really why we're trying to get the word out. If people see these things in the wild, they should report them to us." The "Squeal on Pigs" campaign includes a toll-free hotline number to call: (888) 268-9219. The campaign's full slogan is: "Squeal on Pigs! Protect our Water and Land from Feral Pigs." You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Asian clams suck, and they’re in Lake Pend Oreille

INVASIVE SPECIES — A dive team to assess an outbreak of invasive asian clams in the Hope area of Lake Pend Oreille is being organized for Monday by the Idaho Department of Agriculture and Bonner County.

The clams were detected recently during the pre-runoff lake drawdown.

This is serious business. Somebody let down their guard and brought these clams into the lake, probably by not cleaning their boat after using it outside the area.

The clams multiply fast, suck in algae and excrete high-nutrient pellets that can foul water and turn those famous clear-water bays green.

Apparently we need to crank up the penalties to thousands of dollars and JAIL TIME to get the message out.

Idaho Department of Agriculture’s boat inspection stations, open since March 1, already have caught 11 boats entering Idaho carrying invasive mussels into Idaho.

The department has set up 15 inspection stations across the state as a line of defense against the invasion of zebra or quagga mussels.

If you think it's an inconvenience, you're not educated on the subject.

Northwest states eye Lake Mead as source of invasive woes

 INVASIVE SPECIES — Washington, Idaho and Oregon are among the Northwest states and provinces involved in lobbying the federal government to assure that a $1 million appropriation line item in the Department of Interior’s 2012 budget is spent to help cut off the spread of invasive quagga mussels from a main source – the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Other states and groups involved in the campaign include the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Colorado River Fish and Wildlife Council and Pacific Northwest Economic Region, according to a Columbia Basin Bulletin report.

Last year several boats infested with invasive species from Lake Mead were intercepted by Northwest states at highway check stations.  The Northwest region’s water-related infrastructure such as hydro projects and irrigation systems is at risk, as well as recreation and aquatic environments.

No quagga mussels in Idaho, Washington yet; plenty of close calls…

Tens of thousands of boat inspections later, Idaho and Washington have come through another boating season without getting invasive quagga or zebra mussels established in either state's waters - but there were plenty of close calls. Idaho intercepted 24 mussel-contaminated boats entering the state, and Washington decontaminated 20. While most were coming from the heavily infested Great Lakes region, nearly half were Northwest-bound from federal waters in Arizona and Nevada - and that has officials in both states concerned.

"Mussel-fouled boats continue to leave infested waters without proper decontamination," Idaho Department of Agriculture Celia Gould said. "The federal government needs to do a better job of containing infestations in their waters and preventing the spread of these species to the Pacific Northwest states."

Allen Pleus, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the good news is this: "To our knowledge, there are no established or known detections of zebra or quagga mussels in any Columbia River Basin locations, including British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. So we're the last great water basin without these species in the United States." You can read my full story here from Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

Idaho’s invasive species sticker not transferrable from boat to boat

BOATING — Idaho’s $7 invasive species sticker, which is required on all boats and inflatables longer than 10 feet, cannot be transferred from one vessel to another, Idaho Parks and Recreation officials say.

A story in the Sunday Outdoors section (Aug. 7) suggested otherwise, noting that some boaters were laminating the stickers for more practical attachment such as a cord or zip tie, especially in the case of their rafts.

“Vendors that offer convenient solutions to affixing them to inflatable rafts with rope rigging are doing just that – providing a convenient solution to affixing them to a designated vessel,” said Jennifer Blazek, department spokeswoman in Boise.

But she advised, “The rules are still the rules. The sticker is non-transferrable.” Here's the Idaho Code to prove it.

She acknowledged that nothing on the sticker says it can’t be transferred, but said it’s stated in the rules.

Beyond that, she said the fee is for a good cause dear to the hearts of all boaters.

“Contributions to the Idaho Invasive Species Fund are put to service protecting our coveted waters from invasive species that can devastate a recreational hotspot in a year or less,” she said. “It’s an important program that should be taken seriously.”

Eating our way out of invasive species infestations

EXOTIC SPECIES — Care for a nutria burger?  Or maybe a dab of didymo "rock snot" on your ice cream?

With a boost from creative marketing, the bloated American appetite could help control exotics while conserving imperiled native species.

An invasive species called lionfish is devastating reef fish populations along the Florida coast and into the Caribbean. According to a New York TImes report, an increasing number of environmentalists, consumer groups and scientists are seriously testing a novel solution to control it and other aquatic invasive species — one that would also takes pressure off depleted ocean fish stocks: they want Americans to step up to their plates and start eating invasive critters in large numbers.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is now exploring models suggesting that commercial harvest of Asian carp in the Mississippi would most likely help control populations there, “as part of an integrated pest management program,” spokeswoman Valerie Fellows told The Times.

When they find tastey recipes for spotted knapweed, cheatgrass, rush skeletonweed, milfoil and zebra mussels, we'll be on the road to recovery.

Boaters must stop at Washington’s ‘pop-up’ invasive species check stations

BOATING — Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) check stations will be set up this weekend in several locations in Eastern Washington, the state Fish and Wildlife Department announced this afternoon.

These are mandatory stops for anyone on the road with watercraft of any kind.

Officers will be looking for zebra and Quagga mussels and other plant and animal invasive species that can be extremely hazardous, both to native fish and wildlife and to water systems, if introduced to Washington waters.

The Check Stations will run from 8 a.m. through at least 3 p.m., and will be highly visible with signs, as follows:

  • Saturday, on Highway 2 just north of Spokane (near Chattaroy transfer station).
  • Saturday, on Lake Roosevelt, at National Park Service boat launch sites, including Kettle Falls.
  • Sunday, on Snake River boat launch sites, including Clarkston.

For more info on AIS, see the Fish and Wildlife Department's webpage at  http://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/.

Boaters must stop at Idaho’s summer-season invasive species check stations

BOATING — North Idaho has five invasive species boat inspection sites open through Sept. 9 to check boats for zebra and Quagga mussels that could infest the state's waters. 

The state Agriculture Department's Invasive Species Program is operating the sites 7 a.m.-7 p.m. as follows:

  • Cedars, on westbound Interstate 90 at Fourth of July Pass.
  • Huetter Rest Stop, on westbound I-90 between Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene.
  • Garwood, moved this year to Highway 53 (Trent) near the state line.
  • Old Town on Highway 2 east of Newport.
  • Samuels on Highway 95 north of Sandpoint.

Boaters asked to lead effort on zebra mussels

BOATING — Idaho has set up 15 roadside invasive species boat inspection stations, including five in the Panhandle. The goal is to prevent the state-by-state spread of exotic zebra and quagga mussels.

People transporting a watercraft near boat inspection stations are required to stop.

When going to any different water, remember to Clean, Drain, and Dry your boat.

For more info on boat inspections nationwide, click above to check out the just-released video from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Biologists explains zebra mussel threat

INVASIVE SPECIES — Mike Wilkinson, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department’s aquatic invasive species biologist, will give a free program focusing on the threat of zebra mussels invading the region’s waters on Tuesday, 7 p.m., at the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council office, 6116 N. Market St.

Boat carrying zebra mussels intercepted at Washington border

INVASIVE SPECIES — Washington officials found invasive zebra mussels on a boat coming into Washington Saturday at the stateline port of entry near the Idaho border.

Both Idaho and Washington are ramping up their surveillance for these invasives with horrible consequences to our waterways.

Read on for more about this particular case as well as about Idaho's mandatory boat check stations.

Feral pigs invading Oregon; Washington wary

INVASIVE SPECIES — Washington state is keeping a close eye on the feral pig populations in Oregon, where the fish and wildlife department has ordered farmers to determine the size of the destructive pig populations on their land and get rid of them.

An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife official says the feral pig populations are likely moving north from groups in California, where they are hunted as game.

The Capital Press reports a group of between 50 and 100 feral pigs in southwestern Idaho was culled to 20 through surveillance and tracking in the area, and Oregon hopes to duplicate that success.

States in the Midwest and Southeast suffer from massive feral pig populations that wreak havoc on valuable crop land.

Oregon officials hope to eradicate them before that happens.

Mussel-infested boats stopped at Idaho checkpoint

WATERWAYS — Two boats infested with invasive mussels were intercepted at a North Idaho checkpoint, state officials said Monday.

Idaho Department of Agriculture said in a press release the boats were stopped at a station on Interstate 90 near Wallace on Thursday. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports one of the boats was headed to Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, while the other was destined for Gig Harbor in western Washington.

The mussels have many western states taking preventative steps because they can destroy food chains, threaten waterways and fisheries. So far, Idaho waters are free of the invasive species, but two years ago the state Legislature passed laws requiring that all boats be tested.

Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin says last week’s incident underscores the threat that invasive mussels pose to Idaho.

Video: flying carp could get old, fast

INVASIVE SPECIES — You've probably heard about the dangerous investations of "flying" silver carp in the Midwest. Trust me:  we don't want them.

Check out this video and consider whether it would be any fun to take a kid fishing and boating in Indiana's Wabash River.

‘Rush Week’ targets Panhandle’s newest aquatic invader

INVASIVE SPECIES – Sandpoint-area residents are organizing this week to pounce on an new unwanted aquatic invader to Lake Pend Oreille.

A public work party to stop the spread of flowering rush will begin Saturday, 1 p.m., at Sandpoint City Beach.

Like other aquatic invasive plants, flowering rush crowds out native vegetation and interferes with swimming and navigation. Yet, in some places, it's sold as a decorative plant.

According to the Bonner County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force, the infestation is still at a manageable level, but the group is devoting the week to coordinating with school groups to tackle flowering rush infestations in Boyer slough, Denton Slough, Clark Fork Delta and Dover.

Read on for details.

Idaho opens more mandatory boat inspection stations

BOATING — Mandatory watercraft inspection stations targeting invasive species have opened at three sites in the Idaho Panhandle, with two more to open in May.

And don't forget Idaho's invasive species sticker requirement for most vessles.  The sticker comes with Idaho boat registrations, but a separate sticker must be purchased if your boat is registered out of state or if you have an unregistered non-motorized craft.  All non-motorized boats over 10 feet long, including inflatables, are required to have a sticker.

Idaho's boat inspection sites will check vessels for standing water and signs of quagga and zebra mussels. Inspectors will ask boaters where their craft has been in the previous 30 days. All boats should be clean, drained and dry when they arrive in Idaho.

Inspection stations the state Agriculture Department has opened so far are:

  • Cedars, on westbound Interstate 90 at Fourth of July Pass.
  • Huetter Rest Stop, on westbound I-90 between Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene, operating Friday, Saturday and Sunday until May 15 when it will begin opening daily.
  • Garwood, moved this year to Highway 53 (Trent) near the state line, open on same schedule as Huetter station.

These stations will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. through Sept. 9.

Stations at Old Town on Highway 2 east of Newport and Samuels on Highway 95 north of Sandpoint, are set to open on May 15.

The inspections are an effort to keep invasive mussels out of Idaho’s waters.

Zebra and quagga mussels are prolific breeders, attaching themselves to hard surfaces where they clog intake pipes and foul freshwater ecosystems. The mussels have infested the Great Lakes. In recent years, they’ve been found in parts of Nevada, Utah, California, Arizona and Colorado.