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200710900 - Aquatic Nuisance Species monitoring and outreach program for the Mountain Columbia province (Montana portion) of the Columbia River Basin

Sponsor: Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Budgets: FY07: $51,739 | FY08: $43,473 | FY09: $43,473

Short description: Establishment of an Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) monitoring program, identify potential ANS vectors and continue and expand ANS public awareness efforts within the Mountain Columbia province.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $51,739 | FY08: $43,473 | FY09: $43,473


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This proposal has a focused and practical approach and is at a good location for early detection and prevention of invasive species, i.e., those arriving from the eastern US. This is a good operation with the concept "find them early and get rid of them before they proliferate." This type of work requires high priority, and Montana seems to have done their homework and is out in front on this issue. The Columbia River basin would benefit from enhanced surveillance on invasives possibly moving west. More details are required on the sampling program in lakes and reservoirs to make sure the investment in this aspect of the work is scientifically defensible. An approach other than trawls may be more useful for Zebra Mussels. In Tennessee, the use of plastic plates was an effective way to sample. This and other methods might be explored by the project sponsors as alternatives to the trawls. Technical and scientific background: The problem is adequately identified and is described with appropriate references. For example, the proposal contains a better than adequate review of invasives in Montana subbasins. The current work seems to be being done on somewhat of a shoestring and there is a need to bolster the surveillance, given that invasives such as zebra mussels could move into the Columbia River from the east. Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: The logic for this action is detailed and is appropriate in all subbasin plans with specifics mentioned. Relationships to other projects: Montana seems to be out in front on this issue and realizes that they need to stop the nuisance species quickly or there will be nothing meaningful that they can do. They have received some funding in the past, which was reduced resulting in this request for funds. The context of the project is described, but linkages/collaboration with USGS and Portland State University projects are not identified. Objectives: Use of trawls to determine presence of zebra mussels in lakes is their highest priority (details are presented). They also propose to sample for aquatic invasive weeds (cited methods), monitor for mudsnails near major fishing access sites, work on illegally stocked private fish ponds, and study angler movement patterns to help understand risk of introduction of various species. They intend to prevent spread by inspecting boats, trailers, and other equipment, and to increase public awareness of harmful impacts of nuisance species. They will also evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach efforts. This seems like a grassroots operation that is mostly common sense and logical. Tasks (work elements) and methods: The methods to evaluate the situation are fairly basic and do not need much elaboration. Perhaps more details could be presented and additional information made available about the findings in a database or annual reports. The proposal would be improved if the methods for choosing sample sites were better explained. The proposal states that all major lakes and reservoirs will be surveyed but locations within the water bodies may be critical. In addition, small lakes and reservoirs may be as important as major ones. The surveillance level intended for hatcheries, boat trailers, etc should be quantified. Detection of zebra mussel larvae in the water column of lakes may be a hit and miss operation. Monitoring and evaluation: The proposal is to set up a monitoring and surveillance program. Success will be measured by the number of invasives that are detected and prevented from spreading into the Columbia River basin. However prevention will require intervention and the proposal could expand on that aspect. The proposal would benefit by including more detail in descriptions of methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing the data. Facilities, equipment, and personnel: Some additional equipment is needed including a boat and trailer (less than $10,000). Information transfer: A public education program was mentioned as one of their objectives. A plan is in place to secure information in the USGS invasives database.

State/province recommendation: Fundable

Review group: Mtn Col

Recommended budgets: FY07: $51,739 | FY08: $43,473 | FY09: $43,473

Comment: The OG believes this project should be part of the Hungry Horse and Libby Mitigation Programs.