Public Lands Alliance offers to help Glacier with invasive mussels

Public Lands Alliance offers to help Glacier with invasive mussels

Source: NBC Montana
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Christopher Salas

KALISPELL, Mont. – With warm weather sticking around many boats are out on the water all across Montana.

The state set up special inspection points to make sure boats aren’t carrying invasive aquatic mussels, but there aren’t any check stations in Glacier National Park for motorized boats, and that means none are allowed at the park.

One group is looking to change that. The Public Lands Alliance sent NBC Montana this letter.

It says the group will provide the manpower and funds necessary to inspect boats for mussels and, that way, organizers hope motorized boats will be once again allowed in bodies of water at the park.

Glacier National Park public affairs officer Lauren Alley said, “We are still in that assessment phase where we are looking into all the different options. What types of programs are the most effective, obviously at Glacier we would want to implement the gold standard of programs to make sure that those aquatic invasive species never get to the park.”

The Public Lands Alliance points to Whitefish Lake as an example of what the park can do. They say the lake is implementing the Whitefish Lake Aquatic Invasive Species Management Program, requiring checking stations be open more than 12 hours a day and a $40 decontamination fee.

According to motorized boat owner and Montana native Donna Byrd, that fee wouldn’t deter her from bringing her boat to the park.

Byrd said, “If it’s a one-time $40 fee then yeah, I would pay that, but I would be using it all the time.”

She acknowledges that might not be the case for one-time visitors. She continued, “I would imagine visitors would probably not be interested in paying that.”

But the Public Lands Alliance says they’re even offering to put up the manpower and pay the fee for customers.

One restaurant worker at the park doesn’t believe the motorized boat ban will impact business.

Alley says there were only about 1,000 permits last year for motorized boats out of 2 million visitors.

Even with a ban on motorized boats it won’t stop those like Byrd from coming to the park.

“We still come to the park,” Byrd said. “Obviously on days when we want to take the motorboat out we’re going to go somewhere else, but we still spend a lot of time at the park.”

The Public Lands Alliance says they haven’t heard back yet from the park.

Alley says the park receives multiple assistance requests for invasive mussel species, and they’re still examining which options would be most effective.