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Montana Legislature Considers $11.2 Million To Combat Invasive Species, Create New Department

Photo courtesy of NBC Montana
Photo courtesy of NBC Montana

While the Montana legislature works around a tight budget, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is asking for $11.2 million to help combat invasive species in Montana. FWP Communications Director Ron Aasheim explains what the money will be used for.

“More inspection stations, potentially up to 160 people that would man those,” said Aasheim. “There would be a bureau in the fisheries division in Fish, Wildlife and Parks that would deal solely or strictly with aquatic invasive species, primarily mussels. Also, decontamination stations where boats leaving Tiber and Canyon Ferry under certain circumstances, if they are not going to stay on those reservoirs, would have to be decontaminated.”

According to Aasheim evidence of invasive mussels has been found in the Tiber Reservoir and one test for mussels has returned positive in Canyon Ferry. He says invasive mussels can be a very expensive problem.

“It is an invasive species that is a big big deal,” Aasheim said. “It can cause problems to the fishery, it can cause problems to hydroelectric stuff, it can cause problem to municipality, when you get water from a lake or reservoir, so it is a real big deal. In the Midwest, it is a multi-million dollar problem and it has the potential to be that here and then in downstream states obviously.”

Although chemical analysis and mussel sniffing dogs have identified the invasive species in Montana, no adult mussels have yet been found, and FWP hopes it stays that way.

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