Tester Delivers Big Blow to Invasive Species

Senator Helps Pass Legislation to Support Watercraft Inspection Stations in Western Montana

Senator Jon Tester today helped pass legislation to ensure new and established watercraft inspection stations in western Montana are eligible for resources to prevent the spread of damaging aquatic mussels.

“Montana is under attack from invasive mussels that can destroy irrigation systems, reduce opportunities to fish and float, and cause irreversible damage to our state’s economy,” Tester said. “This legislation ensures that there will be inspection stations in western Montana that will contain invasive species, one of the first steps to protecting our world-class rivers, lakes, and streams.”

The Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Act allows the Army Corps of Engineers to support ongoing operations at existing watercraft inspection stations and establish new stations in western Montana, as well as Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to prevent the spread of invasive species. Additionally, the Corps is specifically instructed to assist these western states in early detection and rapid response of zebra and quagga mussels, as well as other aquatic invasive species.

Tester’s legislation will help prevent the spread of the zebra and quagga mussels that were recently discovered in Tiber Reservoir and Canyon Ferry Lake, as well as other invasive species like the Eurasian Watermilfoil.

The Columbia River Basin, which includes the Clark Fork, Flathead, and Kootenai Rivers, is the last major river basin in the country that hasn’t been exposed to invasive zebra and quagga mussels. Mussel infestation in that basin could cost hundreds of millions annually for hydroelectric facilities alone.

This week, Tester also sent a letter to the Department of the Interior urging the agency to make invasive species prevention its top priority and take swift action to prevent the spread of mussels to the watersheds west of the Continental Divide.