North Coast Mussel Prevention Consortium: Federal Legislative Update, Support Needed for HR 1823

Dear North Coast Mussel Prevention Partners and Friends:

An important piece of federal legislation (HR 1823) has been introduced that would amend the Lacey Act to include quagga mussels.  Below is a fact sheet of HR 1823.  Congressman Mike Thompson is co-sponsoring this legislation; we greatly appreciate his continued support on this issue.  We ask that you please send letters of support on HR 1823 to Congressman Thompson and Congressman Heck (Nevada, introduced the bill).

HR 1823Fact Sheet
The Impact of Dreissenid Mussels

Background:

HR 1823: Congressman Heck & Amodei of Nevada introduced bill HR1823 on April 30, 2013.

This bill would add the “genus Dreissena” under the Lacey Act as an injurious species.  Currently, zebra mussels are the only species of Dreissena listed as injurious under the Lacey Act. By adding genus Dreissena both quagga and zebra mussels would be listed. Under the Lacey Act, the importation or shipment of an “injurious wildlife” species is prohibited and subject to civil and criminal penalties.

These species could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year and close down access to state waters for recreation and commercial opportunities. Mussels can clog water intake pipes and filters, reducing water pumping capabilities for power and water treatment plants. Once established, these mussels will change ecosystems and food sources critical to native mussels and species such as salmon and trout.  Currently, there is no proven way to eradicate the mussels from a water body once they are established.

  • Dreissenid mussels are freshwater mollusks introduced into the Great Lakes in 1986 via ships’ ballast water.  Quagga and zebra mussels spread quickly throughout the Great Lakes and were moved to the west to Lake Mead on boats.
  • After they were discovered in Lake Mead in 2007, quagga mussels quickly spread to connected lower Colorado River basin lakes and reservoirs in Arizona and southern California.  They have also turned up in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
  •  Quagga mussels can spread to other inland waters either in their immature form transported in water carried in livewells, bilge, and motors, or as adults attached to boat hulls, engines, aquatic weeds, lines, anchors and other surfaces.
  • Mussels have proven that they in fact can move across dry land and infest water bodies that are separated by hundreds of miles.

Problem:

  •  Quagga and zebra mussels have cost more in prevention and control than any other aquatic species to invade the United States, costing an estimated $5 billion in prevention and control efforts since their arrival to the Great Lakes in the late 1980s.
  • Mussels are filter feeders. They take water out, remove the food items, and then pump out water and waste. They compete directly with the food sources for both native and game fish, and can change the food web in a lake. They also take in lots of pollutants (at levels higher than the surrounding area, referred to as as bio-accumulation), which can harm other wildlife that eat them.
  • Mussels can multiply at an alarming rate. A single female quagga can produce more than one million eggs in a spawning season.
  • The threat and/or presence of mussels is causing people to change the way we have come to use water. Water users are having to pay more for maintenance of water delivery systems; boaters are being asked to have their vessels inspected before launching; and some water bodies now restrict boating hours to insure that boats are inspected prior to launching.

For more information about the mussels, please go to www.dontmoveamussel.com.

Source: http://www.invasivespecies.wa.gov/documents/priorities/ZebraQuaggaMusselFactSheet.pdf

SAMPLE LETTER

Send letters via e-mail to:
Congressman Thompson’s Office: Dan Sousa, Daniel.Sousa@mail.house.gov
Congressman Heck’s Office:  Krist1n Maxwell, kristin.maxwell@mail.house.gov

Dear Congressman Heck (Congressman Thompson) :

The (insert agency name) supports the passage of HR 1823 (The Preventing Lakes Against Quaggas Act) and thanks you for introducing this important piece of legislation.  This legislation would add the quagga mussel to the list of injurious species under the Lacey Act to give federal agencies more authority to address the interstate transport of infested articles.  Currently, the equally destructive invasive zebra mussel is listed under the Act.

The (insert agency name), along with a coalition of other local government agencies along the North Coast of California, have joined together to begin a regional invasive mussel prevention program.  We realize that quagga and zebra mussels pose a serious threat to not only critical water supply and flood control facilities, but also to the regional effort to restore the endangered coho salmon within the Russian River watershed.  If either mussel were to be introduced into Lake Sonoma, our regional coho restoration program could be shuttered.

HR 1823 fills a hole that currently exists with the omission of quagga mussels in the Lacey Act.  The federal government should treat interstate transportation and penalties for both the zebra and quagga mussel equally.  We appreciate your continued support for our regional mussel prevention efforts.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Sincerely,

Name
Title
Agency
Phone
E-mail

Cc: North Coast Mussel Prevention Consortium

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If you have any questions, please let me know.

Thank you,

Brad Sherwood
Community & Governmental Affairs Manager
Sonoma County Water Agency
sherwood@scwa.ca.gov
(707) 547-1927