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Landowner permission needed to remove invasive plants

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News from the Flathead Basin Commission

POLSON — Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) can foul boats, degrade water quality and wreak havoc on a host of native species. The economic impacts are equally adverse. Once invasive species become established in a watershed, property values and tourism revenues generally decline by 10 to 30 percent. While the Flathead Basin remains free of many of the most problematic AIS, such as zebra and quagga mussels, aquatic invasive plants have made their way into Flathead Lake. 

However, with funding from Department of Natural Resources and Conservation 223 grant program, the Lake County Conservation District is taking proactive steps to treat and potentially eradicate one of the most problematic aquatic weeds colonizing Flathead Lake in the last several years – Curlyleaf Pondweed (CLP). In the northern half of the Lake, six bays are currently infested with CLP, along with some isolated pockets of plants in the Flathead River. 

 “The infestations are at a stage where they can be effectively treated using a diver dredge operation, and perhaps even eradicated, if funding and personnel continue to be made available,” Jim Simpson, Lake County Conservation District Supervisor said.

The Lake County Conservation District must obtain signed permission forms from property owners in order to allow the diver dredge operator to enter their underwater properties and remove the CLP. To facilitate the property owner outreach needed to obtain the permission forms, the Lake County Conservation District is partnering with the Flathead Basin Commission, the Flathead Lakers, and the Flathead Basin AIS Work Group.  The AIS Work Group includes 27 entities, such as the City of Polson, Lake County, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, among others.

“The diver dredge service is being provided free of charge, has no adverse environmental impacts, and will maintain water quality in Flathead Lake – it’s a win-win for everyone,” Caryn Miske, Executive Director of the Flathead Basin Commission said.

Steve Rosso, Flathead Lakers Board Member, said that based on his discussion with property owners at Mission View Terrace, Point Caroline and Peaceful Bay, the response to date has been overwhelmingly positive. “The property owners that I have spoken with have been more than happy to cooperate, and many are asking what they can do to help,” he said.

The Lake County Conservation District strongly encourages all property owners that receive a permission form in the mail to return it in the self addressed, stamped envelope provided, as soon as possible, so that work can commence in a timely fashion.

The mission of the Lake County Conservation District is to promote the “wise use of natural resources and prudent conservation practices in Lake County.” 

The Lake County Conservation District is one of 58 conservation districts in the state of Montana. The Montana Legislature created conservation districts in 1939 to help citizens conserve their soil, water and other renewable natural resources. Conservation districts work closely with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) in carrying out their duties.

For additional questions regarding the CLP treatment effort, call (406) 240-3453.

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