More quagga mussels found in Lake Powell; Is the Lower Colorado River ecosystem at risk?

Quagga mussels coating a flip-flop in Lake Mead. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

Quagga mussels coating a flip-flop in Lake Mead. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

National Park Service seeking input on mussel management plan

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The battle to keep Lake Powell free of non-native mussels is tilting toward the aquatic invaders and federal resource managers are concerned the invaders may spread into Glen Canyon.

As of January, the National Park Service reported finding — and removing — about 1,300 hundred adult quagga mussels, and managers at the reservoir said they’re finding more as the season progresses.

In response, the park service is developing a quagga-zebra mussel management plan to help the the agency decide what tools are appropriate to support the ongoing management of invasive mussels in Glen Canyon now that quagga mussels are present in Lake Powell.

The freshwater shellfish have spread like an aquatic plague throughout lakes and streams in the U.S. Since they have no native predators, the mussels multiply unchecked. Left alone, they can sterilize entire ecosystems and gum up water facilities.

The plan being developed by the park service will consider changes to the existing prevention and monitoring efforts, and would include analysis of potential control, containment, and other park management actions. The plan will also consider options for providing a sustainable funding source.

Resource managers at the park say other agencies have had some success removing mussels from much smaller environments, but once a population is established, it’s extremely difficult to eradicate it.

For now, park service managers are looking for public input at the early stages of developing their plan. Resource managers said they’ve used a variety of tools to support extensive mussel prevention efforts for several years. This has included education efforts, monitoring, and inspection, decontamination, and quarantine of incoming boats as necessary.

The comment period runs through March 7. Submit ideas at this National Park Service website.


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