Posted: Apr 2, 2013 8:43 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - The state of Montana is asking for the Legislature's help in protecting Montana's waterways from harmful plants.
Several state agencies are asking for the passage of House Bill 586 to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species.
A few bodies of water, including Noxon Reservoir and parts of the Missouri River, have seen the spread of Eurasian water-milfoil.
The plant can cause serious damage to a water's ecology. It not only clogs boats, but when it gets into irrigation equipment it can shut down water systems.
HB 586 creates a management plan to fight the spread of these plants and other harmful species.
"When you talk about Montana you associate it with blue ribbon trout streams, pristine water, and pretty good water availability. We are trying to protect that. It's a part of our way of life," Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim explained.
"It's the life-blood of our agricultural community. It's the lifeblood of our municipalities and the recreational industry. Hundreds of millions of dollars go into recreation associated with fishing, boating and flat water recreation. So we are trying to preserve the best," he added.
The bill appropriates $1 million to FWP so the agency can create check stations across the state. Staff would inspect boats for water-milfoil as well as for other species, like zebra mussels.
The agency believes if they can clean the equipment then it will prevent the spread of these species to other bodies of water.
The bill passed the House with overwhelming support and is now awaiting action in the Senate.