Posted on Thursday, April 13, 2017
On April 10, the Montana Legislative Sportsmenís Caucus called upon the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for assistance in combating the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the state.
As noted in a letter from the Caucus, the state has been working tirelessly to prevent the spread of AIS following detection of harmful mussel larva in Montanaís Tiber Reservoir in the fall of 2016. As part of the effort to fight the spread of AIS, the Montana Sportsmenís Caucus has also supported Montana House bill 622, which would require boat check stations for aquatic vessels entering the state; implement a boat sticker program to fund AIS prevention efforts; authorize counties to adopt AIS ordinances; establish the Missouri River Containment and Quarantine Program for AIS; establish the Upper Columbia Pilot Program for AIS; and increase penalties for individuals found to be responsible for the spread of AIS, among other provisions.
The letter from the Caucus requested financial assistance from BPA to combat AIS, highlighting the mission of BPAís Environment, Fish and Wildlife programs to ďpartner with states, tribal, federal and local governments, non-profit entities and others to implement hundreds of actions to restore habitat, protect land and water.Ē As the Caucus noted, if AIS such as zebra or quagga mussels become established in this particular water basin, Montana, Idaho, and Washington will all suffer negative consequences, including potentially devastating damage to dams in the region.
Addressing the spread of AIS requires significant coordination and joint actions between federal and state agencies, local governments, and private organizations, as exotic species do not respect jurisdictional boundaries. In recent years, AIS have become one of the most common threats to our nationís native fish, wildlife and natural habitats, and are estimated to cost billions of dollars in damages and control costs in the U.S. each year. AIS like zebra mussels, New Zealand mud snails, and Asian carp reduce the productivity of fisheries, threatening both the economic viability of local economies and the critical conservation dollars that flow to states from the purchase of fishing licenses and excise taxes paid on fishing tackle.