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Expert: ID Law on Exotic Invaders Needs to be Water-Tight

November 10, 2008

Sandpoint, ID – Idaho's new law to keep exotic invaders out of waterways is being watered down, according to one expert who has been following the problems invasive species have caused in other states.

Susan Drumheller with the Idaho Conservation League says the administrative rules being written for the law don't include scientifically-proven ways to keep invaders at bay.

She says that since invasive species are already found in nearby states, it's just a matter of time before Idaho waterways are impaired by them.

Freshwater zebra mussels are cited as the most damaging because they destroy ecosystems, clog pipes and ruin boat motors.

"The mussels are very, very tiny and hard to detect. Once those get into your waterway, it's virtually impossible to stop them."

Lake Pend Oreille has already seen the damage costs from an invasive species: a type of water weed called the Eurasian water-milfoil has taken root there.

"We've become aware that this is kind of the beginning of other invasive species that could come and mess with our lake ecosystem."

She says check stations, inspections, and mandated wash-downs of boats and trailers before they enter Idaho waters should be part of the law.

Critics of those measures say they would be expensive, and the law did not budget any money to cover the costs.

Drumheller says the legislature should address that in January. She says budgeting for defending against invasive species would be a small cost compared to how much it costs to battle invasive species once they call an area "home."

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID