Mussels Moving West of the 100th Meridian

Zebra and quagga mussels are a freshwater shellfish that have spread like an aquatic plague throughout lakes and rivers in the U.S., particularly those east of the 100th meridian. Water managers west of the meridian have been working frantically to keep them out of lakes and rivers because once invasive populations are established it is extremely difficult to eradicate them. Since they have no native predators, the mussels multiply rapidly and unchecked. Left alone, they can sterilize entire ecosystems and clog water facilities.
According to a February Summit Voice article, the battle to keep Lake Powell free of non-native mussels is tilting toward the aquatic invaders and federal resource managers are concerned the invaders may spread into Glen Canyon. As of January, the National Park Service reported finding and removing about 1,300 hundred adult quagga mussels, and managers at the reservoir said they’re finding more as the season progresses.
Resource managers said they’ve used a variety of tools to support extensive mussel prevention efforts for several years. This has included education efforts, monitoring, and inspection, decontamination, and quarantine of incoming boats as necessary. Now, however, the park service is developing a quagga-zebra mussel management plan to help the agency decide what tools are appropriate to support the ongoing management of invasive mussels in Glen Canyon now that quagga mussels are present in Lake Powell. The plan being developed by the park service will consider changes to the existing prevention and monitoring efforts, and would include analysis of potential control, containment, and other park management actions. The plan will also consider options for providing a sustainable funding source.