EDITORIAL: Mussel fight must transcend politics

Print Article

Itís hard to imagine how potentially devastating a tiny invasive species like the quagga mussel can be on an ecosystem, but thatís no excuse for shutting our eyes to the danger.

Today and tomorrow, Daily Inter Lake reporter Patrick Reilly outlines the threat of quagga and zebra mussels in Western Montana, and shows that from the first discovery in October 2016 until today, the state has walked a zigzag line between politics and science that has the potential to impact our stateís ecosystem and economy for decades to come.

With the aid of a Freedom of Information request, the Inter Lake has pieced together the first full account of how biologists, bureaucrats and politicians quietly responded to the emergency in the first weeks after it was discovered. Was the delay in informing the public until after Election Day motivated by a wish by Gov. Bullockís office to keep it from becoming a political issue? Or was it, as explained to the Inter Lake, a decision made to avoid the issue becoming lost in the hubbub surrounding the general election.

No one can say for sure, nor can anyone know definitively whether revealing the discovery of mussels would have been a political plus or minus if it had come out before the election, but ultimately how we respond to the scientific crisis caused by the presence of quagga mussels in Montanaís waterways is more important than any one election.

Which brings us to the current state of fighting against a quagga invasion in Montana, and especially in the Flathead Basin.

As you will learn in Mondayís front-page story, there is a dedicated and conscientious team of scientists and amateurs who have been working for the past year to contain the mussels and prevent their spread into new waterways.

Sadly, this is a task that isnít glamorous and may not be fully understood by either the general public or the politicians who represent us. As Montana endures a state budget crisis, there has been a regrettable move to cut funding for one of the most important partners in the fight against aquatic invasive species.

As the Inter Lake first reported, the Flathead Basin Commission, which has been coordinating the response in Northwest Montana, is being targeted for a massive cutback that will essentially leave the commission unstaffed. This is a dangerous and short-sighted move, compounded by the fact that state attorneys are questioning the Basin Commissionís authority to sell boat stickers that would raise more than $1 million.

The continuance of the Flathead Basin Commission, which has long proved its usefulness, is of paramount importance, and ought to justify all local legislators getting behind the call for a special session of the Legislature as soon as possible. The stateís budget crisis cannot be an excuse to surrender in the war against invasive species.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Brenneman made valley a better place

June 16, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Daily Inter Lake We were saddened to learn of the death of former County Commissioner Joe Brenneman, who exemplified the community-minded spirit of the Flathead as well as anyone. Brenneman, who was just 60 at the t...

Comments

Read More

Whitefish stepping up to address critical housing needs

June 10, 2018 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake An affordable-housing project proposed in Whitefish is one of eight finalists for the next round of Montana Board of Housing tax-credit awards, and thatís great news for a community whose housing nee...

Comments

Read More

Heino boosted by community support

June 08, 2018 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Congratulations to Brian Heino for his decisive victory in the race for Flathead County Sheriff on Tuesday. His ability to get almost as many votes as his three competitors combined shows he has a s...

Comments

Read More

Be responsible citizen and informed voter

June 03, 2018 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Well, itís almost here ó the most important day in the life of any republic: Election Day. As we have noted before, there is a high level of interest in this yearís primary election, from county con...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2018 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X