Monday, March 13, 2017
Public Comment on Rules To Help Contain Zebra Mussels
You ever wonder what the big deal was with zebra mussels? This photo is courtesy of my hometown newspaper, The Brainerd Daily Dispatch. It's a shopping cart that was pulled out of Lake Superior and covered with zebra mussels. Imagine your dock, your boat motor, turbines in dams...you get the picture.
Tomorrow, March 14th, FWP will be holding public comment on proposed rules to help prevent the spread of these things in Montana waters. If you want to see what the proposed rules are and how you can voice your opinion, go to the IR link provided: http://helenair.com/news/natural-resources/fwp-taking-public-comment-on-rules-for-invasive-mussels/article_bf9ab302-77f6-5520-a1de-ca1ebb63cf89.html
A couple months ago, a buddy of mine, (who happens to be a guide,) asked me about these things and what we should be doing about it or even if it was a real threat. I kind of poo-pooed it as something that has been found in our waters recently and something that has been a real problem for the Great Lakes Region of the States but I didn't think we had much to worry about. In fact, it was my understanding that we had found evidence of zebra mussels in the Missouri River about ten years ago and they haven't become a problem. Well, I'm not sure where I had gotten that info from but I feel I may have been misinformed and definitely am changing my tune. This is something we should be worrying about and definitely worth revisiting.
I think part of the problem with many of these types of issues is that we are, in general, a pretty complacent bunch until something becomes a pain in the ass. We don't like change and we fight tooth and nail to prevent rules or laws to be implemented because we don't want to screw up the routine. Routine is comfortable and safe. Abiding by new rules is a pain. Right?
Let me just tell you something. Do you really want to see what a pain in the ass these things are? You want to see a real change in your routine? I guarantee you, these little critters will change our lakes and river systems for ever and most likely, it won't be good. Just about all indication from regions that have dealt with this will point to one conclusion and we don't want that. The time to get on-board with a proactive approach to the zebra mussel problem is now. If we start seeing these things in our waters, it's too late and we have seen evidence of them in Tiber and possibly a couple other places.
Now I know, it's hard to imagine the destruction from these little critters and maybe you're thinking I'm being a little dramatic so let me give you some numbers and resources so you can judge for yourself:
David M. Lodge and John D. Rothlisberger of Notre Dame, David C. Finnoff of Wyoming, and Roger M. Cooke of Delft determined that the median estimate of damages is $138 million annually but could be more than $800 million annually in the Great Lakes alone. http://news.nd.edu/news/new-paper-assigns-dollar-figure-to-cost-from-ship-borne-invasive-species-to-the-great-lakes/
Government officials have said the total cost of managing the impacts of zebra mussels in Ontario is estimated to be about $75 to $91 million per year; that includes funding, “education, cleaning, maintenance of equipment, around zebra mussels,” said Colleen Sklar, executive director of the Lake Friendly Project. “In Canada, the price tag rises to about $7 billion.” http://globalnews.ca/news/2269026/zebra-mussels-cost-canadians-billions-each-year-cost-to-manitobans-still-unknown/
It is likely the overall aggregate level of cost to the Great Lakes region is significantly over $100 million annually. http://www.westernais.org/media/economics/the_costs_of_aquatic_invasive_species_nature_conservancy_2012.pdf
You want a success story? Here you go:
The success of this community to fight off colonies of zebra mussels was due to thousands of hours of volunteers to actually dive down and hand-remove the mussels. They are still having to dive and survey the mussels and hopefully, prevent new colonies from establishing.
I've only seen one other "success" story as it pertains to zebra mussels. I've written about it in previous blog postings but just to reiterate; the cost of eradicating the mussels in an area about a couple acres on Christmas Lake in Minnesota, cost $70,000. A few months later, mussels were found in other places in the lake and the DNR decided it just wasn't cost effective and too damaging to the ecosystem to continue the treatments.
We are going to have to make some sacrifices. That's the bottom line. Again, you can voice your opinions at the public hearings or write into FWP via the email address provided in the link. Be a part of the solution.
Keep 'em where they live...