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Environment & Science

Daines, Tester Introduce Bill To Prevent Invasive Mussel Spread

A scubadiver holds a rock covered in quagga mussels on Lake Michigan in 2017.
Nicky Ouellet
Yellowstone Public Radio
A scubadiver holds a rock covered in quagga mussels on Lake Michigan in 2017.

Montana’s U.S. Senators on Wednesday introduced a bill aimed at stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels. They have the potential to devastate hydro-electric systems and public water pipes and take over lakes.

The Stop the Spread of Invasive Mussels Act of 2019 would authorize $25 million per year in matching grants under the Bureau of Reclamation for boat inspection and decontamination stations.

The bill would also direct the Interior Secretary to consult and coordinate with affected states, tribes and federal agencies to reduce jurisdictional gaps.

The bipartisan bill is based on recommendations from the nonpartisan 22-member Western Governors Association.

Most bills to establish regulations about aquatic invasive species have failed in recent Congresses.

Invasive mussels were first discovered in Montana in 2016, though subsequent samples have come back negative. The state, tribes and other partners greatly beefed up efforts to screen for and prevent the spread of the mussels in recent years, though some groups argue significant failures in inspections and quarantines remain.

Once the mussels become established in a waterbody there is no method to eradicate them.