Mussel watchers hit Flathead Lake

Print Article

  • Attendees search for mussels at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 1

    Attendees search for mussels along the shoreline of Flathead Lake at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 2

    Attendees search for mussels at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 3

    A display shows quagga mussels on a piece of ABS pipe at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 4

    Phil Matson, a research specialist with Flathead Lake Biological Station, shows a tag from a watercraft inspection station during the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 5

    Deb Tirmenstein, of Montana Black Dog Services, and one of her dogs, Ismay, at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. Tirmenstein has trained her dogs to search for mussels. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 6

    Phil Matson, a research specialist with Flathead Lake Biological Station, speaks during a demonstration at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • Attendees search for mussels at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 1

    Attendees search for mussels along the shoreline of Flathead Lake at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 2

    Attendees search for mussels at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 3

    A display shows quagga mussels on a piece of ABS pipe at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 4

    Phil Matson, a research specialist with Flathead Lake Biological Station, shows a tag from a watercraft inspection station during the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 5

    Deb Tirmenstein, of Montana Black Dog Services, and one of her dogs, Ismay, at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk at the Wayfarers Unit of Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork on Saturday. Tirmenstein has trained her dogs to search for mussels. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 6

    Phil Matson, a research specialist with Flathead Lake Biological Station, speaks during a demonstration at the Flathead Lake Community Mussel Walk in Bigfork on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

Montana is entering its second boating season since invasive quagga mussels were discovered in Tiber Reservoir, just a few hours east of Flathead Lake.

On Saturday, several groups working to keep the lake mussel-free — the Flathead Lakers, the Flathead Lake Biological Station, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Montana State Parks — hosted a Community Mussel Walk to discuss aquatic invasive species detection and prevention.

Hilary Devlin, the Lakers’ education and outreach coordinator, struck a positive note as she discussed the problem with about a dozen guests at the Wayfarers unit of Flathead Lake State Park.

“I hear often, ‘Oh, getting mussels in Flathead Lake is inevitable,’” she said. “But I really don’t believe that.” She and the other speakers stressed that watchful citizens could spare the Flathead from an infestation.

But Shawn Devlin, an assistant research professor at the Flathead Lake Biological Station, warned that the region has much to lose if the mussels arrive.

“Flathead Lake is a very attractive place for people all around the country to come and recreate. It’s crystal clear waters, it’s beautiful shorelines, and it would be a different story if it were lined with zebra mussels.”

“They will take over the entire shoreline,” he added, damaging fisheries and infrastructure.

Montana has introduced a suite of measures to keep that from happening. One of these is a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks requirement that all boats entering the Flathead Basin be inspected.

Phil Matson, a research specialist at the Biological Station, led the group to a trailered boat to explain the state’s “Clean, Drain, Dry” protocols. Mud and plants clinging to a trailer or engine, or standing water inside a hull, were among the factors that could prolong the inspections – or lead to a lengthy decontamination.

“You might have to go 50 miles out of your way to go get your boat decontaminated,” he said. “Clean, drain and dry your boat, people. It’s really simple, and it’s going to save you a lot of headaches.”

Deb Tirmenstein, owner of Montana Black Dog Services, then turned Ismay, a 5-year-old black Labrador retriever, loose on the boat, demonstrating the skills that service dogs lend human inspectors at some stations.

The event finished with a walk along the breezy, pebbled shoreline.

One of the attendees, Capt. Dan Handlin, a board member for the Little Bitterroot Lake Association, planned to take the day’s lessons back home.

“I’m here to learn from them so I can take it back to Little Bitterroot Lake and help (build) education and awareness programs.”

“We have been saved from them because of our isolation, but we’re not safe anymore,” Handlin continued. He raised similar warnings as Devlin about the damage mussels could inflict on local waters. “I’m here to figure out how we as a community can stop that.”

For more information, visit http://cleandraindry.mt.gov/.

Reporter Patrick Reilly can be reached at preilly@dailyinterlake.com, or at 758-4407.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Judge gives county deadline for decision on Egan Slough zoning

December 17, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Daily Inter Lake Flathead County officials have until Dec. 31 to decide whether Montana Artesian Water Co. is in violation of the Egan Slough Zoning District regulations for operating its Creston water bottling plant...

Comments

Read More

Flathead rebounds, takes first at Helena tourney

December 17, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Daily Inter Lake Flathead High School Speech and Debate prevailed at the Helena City of Gold tournament over the weekend. Flathead earned 186 overall points, surpassing Bozeman’s 156, for the win. Glacier High Sc...

Comments

Read More

Fire destroys camper, damages home

December 17, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Daily Inter Lake A large camper all but melted into a puddle and an adjacent home was heavily damaged in a fire on First Avenue South in Hungry Horse Monday afternoon. No one was injured in the blaze. Neighbors said...

Comments

Read More

New South Fork bridge to be unveiled

December 17, 2018 at 11:30 am | Daily Inter Lake Motorists and bicyclists heading through Bad Rock Canyon on U.S. 2 will soon likely enjoy safer, smoother passage over the South Fork of the Flathead River at the edge of Hungry Horse. On Tuesday,...

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