Quagga Mussels discovered in Twin Falls County: Centennial Park and Wilson Lake closed until further notice

This area includes the entire Snake River, from Centennial Park to Shoshone Falls.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 4:36 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Idaho Governor Brad Little and Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Chanel Tewalt were in Twin Falls on Tuesday and held a press conference confirming the presence of a very disruptive invasive species discovered in the Snake River.

On Monday, the Idaho Department of Agriculture discovered the presence of Quagga Mussel larvae at Centennial Waterfront Park in Twin Falls.

The presence of Quagga Mussels is concerning for state officials because this invasive species poses a major threat to Idaho’s water systems, native species, agriculture, and utility systems. Quagga Mussels reproduce and spread quickly, clogging irrigation and public utility pipes and lines.

ISDA Director Chanel Tewalt spoke at the press conference, outlining the state’s reaction to the findings.

“As a response to the findings, the ISDA is implementing a rapid response plan. This is what we planned for, this is what we prep for; that includes notifying impacted entities, implementing containment measures, conducting de-limiting surveys and evaluate for potential treatment options,” said Tewalt. “This is the first time the rapid response plan has been implemented in Idaho for Quagga Mussels.”

Centennial Park is one of the most highly utilized watercraft recreation locations in southern Idaho. Now that the invasive species has been confirmed, the state is requesting the public’s cooperation in staying out of the impacted area.

This area includes the entire Snake River, from Centennial Park to Shoshone Falls.

Gov. Brad Little spoke on why this cooperation from the public is so important.

“Why is this so important? Because, if we are not successful in stopping the unchecked spread of these invasive invaders, it could cost the state hundreds of millions in actual and indirect costs,” said Governor Little. “We’ve already started a robust response. If you go down to the park right now, or look across the canyon, you’ll see Chanel’s team down there working right now.”

Beyond the state’s quick response, Twin Falls County is also in the game.

County Commissioner Don Hall attended the press conference; he says the county is very involved with this developing situation.

“This is a very concerning issue to us. We need to protect that recreational body of water, but it’s also a ‘life’ body of water for irrigation and many other things. So, we are taking this extremely seriously and working with the state,” said Commissioner Hall.

Again, until further notice, the section of the Snake River from Centennial Park - under the Perrine Bridge - and up to Shoshone Falls is restricted to all unauthorized watercraft. Anglers and swimmers are also encouraged to avoid the area.

Centennial Park will remain temporarily closed to all access until this Saturday (9-23), giving crews time to assess the situation.

Depending on those results, a closure could remain in effect until the situation is at an understood and manageable stage.

The State of Idaho has set up a direct link on their website with up-to-date information.

For a quick link to that site, Click Here.

The following is a statement issued by the Twin Falls County Sheriffs Office regarding the closure of Centennial Park:

“As a result of this, temporarily, no watercraft of any type will be allowed on the water between Shoshone Falls and Centennial Park. The ISDA is hopeful this is for a very short time period, dependent of the results of their efforts. We ask and appreciate the public’s cooperation in staying out of the water in this area. Obviously, the Snake River is a major area of recreation for our community members, and we hope to minimize the impact. Access to Centennial Park is currently closed to all vehicles. We anticipate re-opening access to the park on Saturday morning, and will keep the public updated with any new information.”

JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — The North Side Canal Company is closing public recreation access to Wilson Lake in Hazelton for at least 30 days.

The objective is to prevent possible infestation by watercraft that may have been in that particular stretch of the Snake River within the last month.

The canal company is also working with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture in monitoring Wilson Lake and Milner Reservoir for the presence of Quagga Mussel larvae.