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Invasive mussel pilot project a success

Over the weekend members of the East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council teamed up with conservation officers and others to educate boaters coming into B.C. about the possibility of transporting invasive quagga and zebra mussels into the area’s lakes and streams.  - Arne Petryshen photo
Over the weekend members of the East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council teamed up with conservation officers and others to educate boaters coming into B.C. about the possibility of transporting invasive quagga and zebra mussels into the area’s lakes and streams.
— image credit: Arne Petryshen photo

A pilot project to keep back the scourge of aquatic invasive species was deemed a success by organizers. The initiative took place this past long weekend and saw members of the East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council (EKIPC) and conservation officers team up to educate people about aquatic invasive plants, like zebra and quagga mussels.

"It was pretty successful," said Todd Larson, with the EKIPC. Larson was out in the field for a number of days this weekend.

"We didn't find any mussels, which is a positive and kind of what we were expecting and hoping for. It was a good partnership with the conservation officers and the border officers."

The Canada Border Services Agency allowed the teams to set up at two East Kootenay borders. Larson said that despite the aquatic invasive species being provincial, not federal, jurisdiction, border services were receptive to the idea of having the stations set up just after travellers cross into Canada.

"They allowed us to set up just on our side of the border crossing," Larson said. "It was nice to have that presence there as people were coming through. Most boaters coming through were aware of the issues with aquatics."

Many have likely been stopped already in neighbouring provinces and U.S. states, like Idaho and Alberta, where there are already mandatory inspection stations set-up.

"Now it's just B.C. doing our due-diligence here," he said. "This weekend was the first of its kind in B.C. so it's nice to have that exposure as a pilot initiative for sure. We had crews on the water at Koocanusa, at boat launches in that area, so Kikkomun, Tye, Rosen, the RDEK launch and then two border crossings, Roosville and Kingsgate."

He didn't have the exact numbers, but estimated over the three days they looked at about 150 boats.

"There was nothing high risk," he said. "It was mostly just people from Alberta that went down to Idaho or Montana and things like that. It was pretty localized traffic. No one coming up from California or the Great Lakes, where we would have had to do a full decontamination."

He said it was good just to show people what they were looking for and raise awareness and get the message out there.

For more info on the invasive species, go to ekipc.com.

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