A new bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Montana Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester. “Stop the Spread of Invasive Mussels Act of 2019” is targeted at such organisms as zebra and quagga mussels in waterways. In a news release the bipartisan bill was explained as a way to strengthen prevention efforts by the Bureau of Reclamation by partnering with states and cities to fund watercraft inspection and decontamination stations, which have become a common sight along Western Montana highways. The bill also attempts to reduce differences between various agencies in the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force and ensures that all at-risk basins are eligible and prioritized for watercraft inspection and decontamination funding. Senator Micheal Bennet of Colorado joined Tester and Daines in introducing the bill this week.
Tester said, “Invasive aquatic mussels present a serious threat to Montana’s water infrastructure and outdoor economy, and we’ve got to do more more to stop them at the source. This bill is simple – it helps do that by building and staffing new inspection stations so we can better contain their spread and avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in mitigation down the line.” Once such species are established, they can severely damage crucial water infrastructure, harm ecosystems and local economies and limit recreation. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and their partners have been monitoring and inspecting waterways and watercraft since the first signs of invasive mussels were seen in central Montana.