BIGFORK – Flathead Lake is the crown jewel of the entire northwest.
While the Lake remains healthy and mussel-free it takes many partnerships throughout the state who vow to continue to do all they can to keep the dreaded mussels from entering Montana’s waterways.
This week’s Salute to Service features the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station which recently won an award through the Montana DNRC for $15,000 to complete three rounds of sampling on Flathead Lake.
The Flathead Lake Biological Station is now sampling Flathead Lake this month for the presence of Aquatic Invasive Species thanks to the award.
The station — along with crew members from the Confederated, Salish and Kootenai Tribes — will take samples on the southern half. while also teaming up with Fish Wildlife and Parks to sample the north end.
Researcher Phil Matson says water samples will be collected from the surface and bottom of the lake from the boat and from the shoreline from hot spots.
The University of Montana will then test the samples for the presence of environmental DNA like old shells or decaying matter.
Matson says it only takes one mussel to contaminate an entire water body.
FWP reports that out of under 91,000 boat inspections since the state’s inspections stations opened in March were positive.
Matson says thankfully the Treasure State’s waters remain mussel-free so far, and many are working together to keep it that way.
“So far FWP and the state has gone back to Tiber Reservoir to do some follow-up monitoring for the mussels and so far everything has come back negative,” Matson said. “There has been no detection of adult mussels in Tiber Reservoir or anywhere else in the State of Montana.”
Officials say the best way you can help is by keeping your boats cleaned drained and dry. If you see someone bypass a boat inspection you can report them by calling 1-800-847-6668. That’s 1-800-TIP-MONT.