No invasive mussels found in Montana waterways

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HELENA (AP) — Testing of Montana waterways this year turned up no instances of invasive mussels, the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said Wednesday.

Under state policy, the agency will move to lift restrictions placed on Canyon Ferry Reservoir east of Helena after one suspicious water sample in 2016.

If the restrictions are lifted, the Canyon Ferry certified boater program would end and the reservoir would have a mobile inspection team rather than mandatory decontamination stations, Liz Lodman, information officer for the aquatic invasive species program, told the Independent Record.

The restrictions could be lifted as soon as this spring.

Tiber Reservoir south of Chester had multiple water samples test positive for invasive mussel larvae in 2016, triggering a five-year quarantine.

The reservoir has had no positive tests in three years but restrictions, including a certified boater program and decontamination stations, will remain in place for at least two more years.

Montana’s watercraft inspection stations examined a record of more than 112,000 watercraft this year and intercepted 16 boats with invasive mussels coming into the state, the agency said.

Montana has had an aquatic invasive species program for about a decade, Lodman said, and has spent more than $15 million over the past three years — including grant money — on personnel and equipment for inspections and decontamination.

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