Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Conservative Issue: Zebra Mussels

John Stark had a nice right up with links to other articles on the zebra mussels threat in the Northwest: boat-inspections-will-be-next-lake-whatcom-issue. While this issue is presented in the title as a local issue it points to a much broader and very costly threat. Non native invasive Asian clams have already become established in Washington State including Lake Whatcom and Lake Padden. But zebra mussels are another matter. As Mr. Stark points out, the State of Idaho is not known as a nanny state, but has been more aggressive about boat inspections than Washington. Fortunately for Washington, Washington bound boats with invasive mussels have been intercepted through the Idaho inspection program. A close call last week and a lesson: truckers do not always stop at point of entries party-barge-infested-with-invasive-mussels-stopped. Kudos to Mr. Stark on catching this.

Given the costs associated with these mussels, it is a bit surprising that dam operators, fishing interests, irrigation districts and for that matter boat owners have not been more aggressive in demanding greater efforts to prevent the transfer of zebra mussels. Given the failure to stop the less problematic but still costly Asian clam infestations of lakes in Washington, in may be time to reassess the programs to stop invasive water species.

At a local level, there are communities that have decided that their interests and level of comfort with the risk exceeds the level of effort the State government is willing to put into the effort. Lake County in northern California has developed a specific inspection and certification system via ordinance countymussel/ordinance2936.pdf.

Washington State Department of Ecology denied a shoreline permit for a float plane dock in Lake Whatcom. Clearly Ecology is concerned and lacks confidence in the current inspection and educational approach at least in regards to float planes. Lake Whatcom is a State designated float plane lake; already the float plane interests are concerned about the potential impact or restrictions on lakes

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