Feds hand out invasive species grants

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that nearly $600,000 will be given to nine projects targeting three of the highest priorities from the Quagga-Zebra Mussel Action Plan for Western U.S. Waters.

"As quagga and zebra mussels spread to the western United States, they can have devastating ecological and economic impacts, as already seen in the east and central United States. We must address the spread of these invasive aquatic species, which threaten our nation's natural resources, water delivery systems, hydroelectric facilities, agriculture, and recreational boating and fishing," Interior secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.

Invasive species are among the primary factors that have led to the decline of native fish and wildlife populations in the United States and one of the most significant natural resource management challenges.

Once established, these invasive mussels can clog water intake and delivery pipes and dam intake gates. They adhere to boats, pilings, and most hard and some soft substrates.

The mussels negatively affect water delivery systems, fire protection and irrigation systems and require costly removal maintenance.

Efforts funded in this round of grants include:

  • Early-detection monitoring programs for quagga and zebra mussels;
  • Developing a manual describing containment activities in infested water bodies;
  • Refining hot-water decontamination methods for watercraft;
  • Refining decontamination methods for wildland firefighting equipment;
  • Pilot laboratory testing program for the early detection of larval mussels;
  • Invasive mussel early detection monitoring methods and quality assurance workshops;
  • Creating and implementing uniform minimum protocols and standards for watercraft interception and decontamination programs; and
  • Developing standard and effective equipment (non-watercraft) inspection and decontamination protocols.

The service also has provided support for quagga and zebra mussel efforts through regional projects under the 100th Meridian Initiative, a cooperative effort among local, state, provincial, regional and federal agencies to prevent the westward spread of zebra/quagga mussels and other aquatic nuisance species in North America.

In addition, the service, through the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, has provided funds for state and interstate aquatic nuisance species management plans.

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