Worst-case AIS scenario: Defeat

Worst-case AIS scenario: Defeat

News Type: State, Regional, Federal Source: Char-Koosta News
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There are only two outcomes in the tight wire war against the Aquatic Invasive Species — quagga and zebra mussels: victory or defeat. Both are costly but invasion of aquatic mussels is much more costly than persistent vigilance. That is essentially the picture painted in a report prepared by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation in cahoots with the Montana Invasive Species Council (MISC), the Flathead Lake Bio Station and the National Invasive Species Council, a quagga and zebra mussel worst case invasion would cost Montana an estimated $234 million per year in damages to the state economy. The $234 million cost is the worst-case scenario estimate an invasive mussel puts the recreation, agriculture and infrastructure as well as government revenue.

The report was prepared by the Flathead Lake Bio Station and released last Thursday by the MISC to inform Montana legislators on the costs of an invasion and the need for a comprehensive and appropriately funded battle plan. The release is a couple of weeks prior to the Montana House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee hearing on renewal of state funding for combating potential invasive mussel infestation. Perhaps the main bill is the one that will make the funding of the AIS effort permanent instead of a funding line item in the biennial budget. The state presently funds the AIS effort to the tune of nearly $7 million a year.

According to Eric Hanson, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Natural Resource Department Aquatic Invasive Species specialist, the permanent funding will aid in planning efforts. It will make permanent fees from fishing licenses and boat sticker fees, as well as state general funds, will fill the AIS combat purse.