The waters of the Glacier Park are closed to boats because biologists found evidence of the invasive mussels in Montana. According to Lauren Alley, Glacier National Park’s spokesperson, the watershed is very important for Montana.
This initiative is part of the Aquatic Invasive Species Action Plan, a project developed by the Glacier Park officials. Alley explained that although no mussels have been found in the Glacier Park’s waters, the boats are banned until the biologists are sure that there are no risks of a mussel invasion.
These creatures attach to boats, and they can quickly spread to other surfaces. Alley says that a team of professionals is conducting an extensive inspection on all Park Service boats to make sure that there are no mussels attached to them.
The assessment will most likely last until next summer because the experts have to evaluate many waters throughout the state. Boat use is also banned on several lakes including McDonald, Lower Two Medicine, Bowman, Upper Waterton, St. Mary, and Sherburne.
The Glacier Park waters were immediately closed to boats because the Montana Fish and Wildlife officials announced Wednesday that Tiber Reservoir tested positive for the invasive mussel larvae.
Furthermore, Canyon Ferry Reservoir tested positive as well. However, scientists underline that additional testing is needed in order to establish whether the waters are infested or not. Biologists are currently searching for adult mussels in both areas which tested positive.
It is the first time when wildlife officials find evidence of zebra or quagga mussel larvae in Montana’s waters. After developing into adults, these mussels usually clog important structures, such as pipes, so the water flow is interrupted.
The problem is that this water is used for agriculture, municipal use, and hydroelectric power. That is why Glacier Park officials are doing their best to prevent a mussel invasion. These creatures feed on microscopic plants which represent the primary source of food for many species of fish.
In other words, a mussel invasion would have a negative impact on both the environment and the local economy. According to Alley, the first water inspection in Glacier Park was conducted in 2010. Since then, experts have developed several strategies to address this issue and prevent a mussel invasion.
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