Wednesday, 01 February 2023

Brandon: Sierra Club Redwood Chapter acts against quagga mussels

The devastating consequences to Clear Lake and other Northern California waterways threatened by an invasion of the alien quagga mussel has been widely publicized in Lake County throughout 2007. Now it seems that others in the region are are beginning to share our concerns.

On Dec. 8 the Executive Committee of the 11,000-member Sierra Club Redwood Chapter proposed that mussel containment become a top priority for the California Sierra Club, as advocated by Sierra Club Lake Group Chair Victoria Brandon and Chapter Delegate Paul Marchand.

At the Water Managers Forum held in Lakeport on Nov. 30, Cobb area district water manager Robert Stark called an infestation of these mussels in California waterways "the catastrophe that hasn't happened yet": it would devastate their ecological balance and dramatically impair their recreational value, while imposing a grievous financial burden upon water companies and other organizations that rely on surface water sources to meet community and agricultural needs.

Of European origin, quagga mussels entered the Great Lakes in ballast water in the 1980s, and have subsequently become widespread in the eastern United States, where they clog intake pipes, destroy motors, turn mooring lines into razor blades, and monopolize so many nutrients that fish and other forms of aquatic life starve. Direct repair and maintenance costs top $100 million annually. No practical method of eradication has yet been discovered.

They were found in Lake Mead in January 2007, and subsequently in other parts of the Colorado River drainage and several unconnected reservoirs in San Diego County, with recreational boaters believed to be the primary transport agent.

In October, legislation sponsored by Yolo Assemblymember Lois Wolk (AB 1683), provided the Department of Fish and Game with the authority to inspect, decontaminate, and if necessary to quarantine boats, other vehicles (eg trailers and seaplanes), and marinas, and to delegate these sweeping powers to other agencies but without the budgetary increases needed for effective implementation.

The Redwood Chapter wants the Club to urge California government to take decisive action to keep the mussel invasion from spreading throughout the state. Specific recommendations include: exercise by the Department of Fish and Game of its AB 1683 powers to quarantine mussel-infested waters or to impose mandatory decontamination on boats and other vehicles leaving those waters, with whatever funding increases are necessary to enable the effective performance of this mandate; inspection of boats and boat trailers for mussels at the state border, with mandatory decontamination if necessary; joint action with Nevada, other affected states, and federal agencies to establish containment methods; and design and implementation of a comprehensive campaign of public information.

The Chapter expects to present a resolution including these recommendations to the Regional Conservation Committee of the California Sierra Club on Jan. 20, 2008.

Victoria Brandon is chair of the Sierra Club Lake Group.


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02.01.2023 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
East Region Town Hall
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