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Yellowstone Takes Steps to Halt Spread of Invasive Mussels

Yellowstone Lake is one of two lakes that Yellowstone National Park officials will install barriers to keep out boats that haven't been cleared of invasive mussel larvae.

Yellowstone National Park officials are installing barriers in front of boat launches in an attempt to prevent invasive mussels recently discovered in Montana from spreading to the park and into the Columbia River Basin.

Invasive mussel larvae have been found in Montana’s Tiber Reservoir and are suspected in Canyon Ferry Reservoir. They can spread quickly, clogging pipes, displacing native species and causing other environmental problems.

The moveable barriers will be installed at launches at Yellowstone and Lewis lakes to keep uninspected boats from entering the lakes when check stations and entry points aren’t staffed in the early mornings and at night, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported. They will keep uninspected boats from entering the lakes when check stations and entry points are not staffed.

“We don’t want to be known as the park that allowed zebra mussels to enter the Columbia Basin,” Yellowstone fisheries supervisor Todd Koel said.

The Columbia River Basin is the network of waterways from Canada to Wyoming and across the Pacific Northwest that drains into the river that flows into the ocean.

Yellowstone rules require that all watercraft be inspected. Park officials use high-temperature pressure washers to make sure that vegetation, animals and debris are removed from boats before they arrive at boat launches.

Most vessels used in the park’s waters come from Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, according to boater registration data.