As of April 1, Castlegar is home to a new permanent invasive mussel inspection station.
Last week Premier Christy Clark announced a $2 million boost to the province’s invasive mussel defence program to fund eight new permanent mussel inspection stations installed at major entry points along BC’s borders.
Five inspection stations are setup along the BC-Alberta border and the other three are setup along the BC-US border. Five of the stations are in the Columbia Basin, located near Castlegar, Golden, Radium, Sparwood and Valemount.
Funding for the new stations is being provided through BC Hydro, FortisBC, Columbia Power and the Columbia Basin Trust, with the province making in kind contributions with staff, equipment and office space.
There will be a total of 32 conservation officers working the stations, which will be open 10 hours a day, seven days a week from now until October. This is an increase of 20 crew members from last year’s pilot project. Expansion of the program also includes increased highway signage at the station locations, expanded monitoring for quagga and zebra mussels, expanded Report All Poachers or Polluters (RAPP) response line coverage, and increased education and outreach activities.
Quagga and zebra mussels are a threat to BC’s aquatic ecosystems, salmon populations, hydro power stations and other infrastructure. The mussels can clog pipes, displace native aquatic plants and wildlife, degrade the environment and affect drinking water quality.
“It’s a very significant threat for us, because we know that if they get a foothold in British Columbia, they become established in our waters and our waterways, it could cost us millions of dollars,” Clark said at the announcement. “We estimate $43 million every year in economic impact. So we’ve started with our preventative approach.”
Last year’s pilot project caught 34 watercraft in need of decontamination, 15 of which were confirmed to be transporting invasive mussels or their larvae. Six of those were issued a 30-day quarantine order due to risk of live mussels.
Anyone aware of boats or equipment that may be contaminated should contact the RAPP hotline at 1-877-952-7277.