In September, quagga mussels were detected in the Snake River near Twin Falls, Idaho. These invasive mussels form hard, sharp clusters that clog hydropower, water conveyances, hatcheries, fish ladders, and other infrastructure. Surveys found an adult mussel and multiple plumes of free-floating larvae, which can survive for a month before settling. While Idaho chemically treated sixteen river miles in October to try and eliminate this harmful aquatic invasive species, the larvae may have floated into Washington before treatment.

This first quagga mussel detection in the Columbia River basin is about 375 river miles from Washington. While the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife conducted extensive monitoring and watercraft inspections, greater readiness and response capacity will be needed if the mussels are detected in Washington.

While there it is unclear if the Idaho treatment was done in time, there is no uncertainty about the risks to Washington. The known annual cost of keeping Washington’s hydroelectric dams functioning is more than $100 million annually. A quagga mussel infestation may harm habitat restoration efforts, fish passage, commercial and recreational fisheries, tribal cultural resources and treaty rights, the already threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead populations, recreational access, water supplies for agriculture, and Columbia River shipping. Join Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff to learn more about the threat these mussels pose to the economy and environment, how to identify and report this devastating pest, and the department’s efforts to monitor for invasive mussels, improve protections for the Snake and Columbia Rivers and infrastructure, and reduce economic and environmental impacts. One pesticide recertification credit from the Washington Department of Agriculture has been requested. Register here.

Speaker bios

Justin Bush joined the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as the state’s aquatic invasive species policy coordinator in 2023. In this role, he leads statewide aquatic invasive species prevention and management, and ballast water and biofouling efforts. Justin has been working on invasive species issues since 2008 with federal, state, regional, and local organizations including the Washington Invasive Species Council, King County, Skamania County, and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin where he managed the Texasinvasives.org statewide partnership. During these years, he has been involved with countless projects to prevent, detect, and control both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species and is passionate about reducing the threat they pose to the economy, native species, and ecosystems.

Captain Eric Anderson has been with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for twenty-eight years, first as a biologist then as a fish and wildlife officer. In 2006, he became the first-ever aquatic invasive species officer dedicated to combating this threat, quickly becoming a western United States expert on aquatic invasive species enforcement, watercraft inspection, and laws. He has authored several regulations that are considered models for other states. He also is an expert watercraft inspection and decontamination trainer and has been featured in several inspection training videos used throughout the western United States. Captain Anderson also is trained in rapid response and planning.

Photograph by: Government of Alberta