Magic Valley county commissioner meet to discuss invasive mussel battle

GOODING, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Cassia County Commissioner Leonard Beck led a meeting with other Southern Idaho county leaders regarding the challenges invasive species - specifically the quagga mussel, still presents to the state and some of the issues the Cotterel boat checking station is dealing with in their mission to keep Idaho waters invasive species free.

The quagga mussel is well known to county leaders, as well as water recreationist. All watercraft launched in Idaho waters, both motorized and nonmotorized, are required under the Invasive Species Act to display an Idaho Invasive Species sticker. The funds collected from sticker fees go toward essential invasive species preventive programs like boat inspection stations, which centered around much of this discussion during Tuesday's meeting at the Gooding County Courthouse.

"We feel this Cotterel Station is an important station to stop this infestation from coming into Idaho," said Cassia County Commissioner Leonard Beck.

Beck said the Cotterel boat inspection station on Interstate 84, about seven miles south of the I-84/86 junction, is one of the most important the state employs in its defense against invasive species. It's at a point of entry, and while the percentage it sees entering Idaho is only the single digits, close to 20% of the infected mussels that enter the state are stopped at Cotterel. Although the boating season just recently got underway, the station has discovered fouled mussel, or invasive mussel, on at least one watercraft this year.

The Cotterel Station is operated by the
West Cassia Soil Water Conservation District
, but rests on Idaho Department of Transportation property and ITD assist with facility and operational issues, according to Lloyd Knight, an administrator with Division of Plant Industries within the Department of Agriculture. Knight said check stations are scheduled to run 24 hours, but Beck says the one at Cotterel is currently running 21 hours, and one of his biggest concerns is those three hours boats with the quagga could be coming into Idaho.

"The challenge we have is we're at a point of entry right now. We're rudimentary in the facility that we have. We're rudimentary the facility that we have," Beck said. "We're rudimentary in the signage that we have to get them to stop."

Beck said these are some of the issues they've been working with the Idaho Department of Transportation and Department of Agriculture to address.

"They've been very helpful, but we maybe haven't been as directive with them as we could in the past," he said.

Idaho has 20 checking stations placed along routes entering the state. Law enforcement from agencies such Idaho State Police and the Cassia County Sheriff's Office provide support to Idaho boat checking stations as well as provide safety. Cooperative agreements with these agencies provide some cost recovery. As of
, stations across Idaho have completed 4,887 watercraft inspections.

More information on how you can help protect your watercraft and our Idaho waters from invasive species can be hound here, "Clean, Drain, Dry".

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