TWIN FALLS, Idaho — State agricultural officials have opened inspection stations along Idaho's borders for the summer to catch invasive mussels found on incoming boats.
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has opened 20 stations to prevent invasive species and aquatic weeds from entering the state, The Times-News reported (http://bit.ly/1C2Uqmu ). Particularly, the state is concerned with stopping quagga and zebra mussels, which have not yet been found in Idaho.
"All of Idaho's water bodies have tested negative for these species, but they have been found in waters of other Western states and are causing economic and environmental harm in other regions of the country," Agriculture Director Celia Gould said in a news release. "Catching mussel-fouled boats so early in the season is a real wake-up call."
Zebra mussels and quagga mussels range in size from microscopic to the size of a fingernail, depending on the life stage. They are prolific breeders and attach themselves to hard and soft surfaces, fouling freshwater ecosystems and clogging intake pipes that draw water from infested water bodies.
The inspection stations will be open until Labor Day weekend. Vehicles carrying boats — including nonmotorized watercraft — must stop for inspection as they enter the state.
Idaho's inspection program has been protecting the state's waters since 2009, decontaminating 138 mussel-fouled boats.
State officials have inspected more than 20,000 watercrafts this year, with 18 vessels being identified as carrying some sort of invasive species. More than 300 boats have been flagged and washed before entering Idaho's waters.
Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com