The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that nearly $600,000 will be awarded 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," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "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."
The plan completed late last year was developed by a steering committee for the Western Regional Panel of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force. The panel represents 19 western states.
The task force is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to preventing and controlling aquatic nuisance species, and implementing the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990.
Now the task force and panel are pushing for implementation of seven priority actions described in the plan: coordination, prevention, early-detection monitoring, rapid response, containment and control, outreach and education, and research. Implementation of those priority actions would cost an estimated $76 million.
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, according to a USFWS press release announcing the grants. A paper published in 2005 in the journal "Ecological Economics" estimated the cost of invasive species impacts to be approximately $120 billion each year in the United States.
Of growing concern is the advance of zebra and quagga mussels. Once established these invasive mollusks can clog water intake and delivery pipes and dam intake gates, the agency says. They adhere to boats, pilings, and most hard and some soft substrates.
The mussels negatively impact water delivery systems, fire protection, and irrigation systems and require costly removal maintenance. The spread of quagga and zebra mussels across the West brings the potential to extend devastating impacts into a geographic area already challenged with severe water-related problems, the press release says.
No infestations have been found in the Pacific Northwest. But they were found in January 2007 in Lake Mead in the Southwest and since quagga or zebra mussels have been found in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah.
Quagga and zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian sea drainages were introduced to the Great Lakes region of the United States in the late 1980s via ballast water discharge from ocean-going vessels. They have spread throughout the central and northeastern United States via a number of pathways. Adult mussels easily cling to hard surfaces such as boat and can be spread when boats are trailered from one waterbody the next.
The QZAP provides a common sense approach to guide collective efforts of those fighting the westward spread of quagga and zebra mussels, the USFWS says. Efforts funded in this round of grants include:
--Early-detection in Colorado (Colorado Division of Wildlife) -- $40,000 in USFWS funds and $84,000 of in-kind matching to publish a Containment Procedures for Positive Waters manual to complement the State ANS Handbook. Manual will be available in electronic format to all states for their use and adaptation.
-- Early-detection in Montana (Montana Wildlife and Parks) -- $28,754 in USFWS funds and $150,702 of in-kind matching to increase early detection in Montana's waters by strategically sampling 10 high priority waterbodies in Montana.
--Using pressurized hot water spray to kill and remove dressenid mussels on watercraft: field testing on the efficacy of water temperature, high pressure, and duration of exposure (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) -- $100,378 in USFWS funds and in-kind matching in time. This project will develop a standard protocol for killing and removing 100 percent of the quagga and zebra mussels for watercraft decontamination with pressurized water spray.
-- Develop effective decontamination protocols for wildland firefighting equipment to quagga/zebra mussels: testing the efficacy of quaternary ammonium compounds on killing dressenid veligers and adults (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) -- $118,283 in USFWS funds and in-kind matching in time. This project will investigate the effectiveness of quaternary ammonium compounds (common cleaning agents used in homes, etc) in killing quagga and zebra mussels to inform decontamination protocols for wildland firefighting equipment exposed to quagga and zebra mussels.
-- Early-detection monitoring for quagga and zebra mussels in Oregon (Portland State University) -- $45,489 in USFWS funds and $14,489 of in-kind matching to increase early detection in Montana's waters by strategically sampling at least 10 high priority waters in Oregon.
-- Implementation of a monitoring and early detection program for zebra mussel invasion of Texas aquatic habitats (University of Texas at Arlington) -- $55,000 in USFWS funds and $53,090 of in-kind matching to monitor waters in northeastern Texas and to develop and test an accurate and economically feasible zebra mussel monitoring system.
-- Pilot laboratory testing program for the early detection of zebra and quagga mussels in Western U.S. waters (Bureau of Reclamation) -- $103,559 in USFWS funds and $38,250 plus time of in-kind matching to implement a pilot laboratory testing program to determine and improve the reliability of laboratory performance regarding early detection of Dreissena larvae in plankton samples.
-- Dreissena mussel early detection monitoring methods and quality assurance workshops (Bureau of Reclamation) -- $72,236 in USFWS funds and $32,000 plus time of in-kind matching to address key bottlenecks in the effort to expand early monitoring projects by holding two workshops. These workshops will improve the reliability of laboratory results by developing a standard protocol.
-- Update and adopt the recommended uniform minimum protocols and standards for watercraft inspection programs for dreissenid mussels in the Western United States (Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission) -- $28,232 in USFWS funds and $12,561 of in-kind matching to survey and update the "Recommended Uniform Minimum Protocols and Standards for Watercraft Inspection Programs for Dreissenid Mussels in the Western United States" document for best practices protocols. The findings will be presented to the Western Regional Panel as an updated UMPS document which would serve as model for other groups.
The USFWS also has provided support for quagga and zebra mussel efforts through regional projects under the 100th Meridian Initiative (www.100thmeridian.org), a cooperative effort between 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 agency through the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, has funded implementation of State and Interstate Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plans. These plans describe detection and monitoring efforts of aquatic nuisance species, prevention efforts to stop their introduction and spread, and control efforts to reduce their impacts. More information is online at: http://anstaskforce.gov.
For more information on aquatic invasive species, please visit: www.fws.gov/fisheries/ans.