Surveys of watersheds in Teton County and on the Bridger-Teton National Forest found no new populations of invasive aquatic species this year.
A coalition of partners funded the surveys, which were conducted by members of Portland State University’s Center for Lakes and Reservoirs during a two-week period in July and August. The surveys cost roughly $30,000.
The technicians looked for non-native species such as New Zealand mud snails, zebra and quagga mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and saltcedar, which can outcompete native species or clog waterways.
Jeanette Langston, lead river ranger for the Bridger-Teton, said fortune may have helped keep invasive species at bay given the number of out-of-area users attracted to the region. The key to keeping unwanted invaders away is teaching people to keep their gear clean, she said.
“I think it’s just more that we’re lucky right now,” she said, explaining that anglers and boaters are crucial to keeping rivers healthy. “We can’t prevent these without people cleaning their equipment,” she said.
Langston said the Snake and the Gros Ventre rivers are especially challenging, because they attract boaters and anglers from across the country.
“A lot of use is guided, and we have been working with guides to make sure they know about aquatic invasives,” she said, explaining that people coming from the South Fork of the Snake River are particularly prone to spreading New Zealand mud snails. “The big thing is to clean, inspect, dry every time you come into contact with a body of water.”
Installations designed to prevent the spread of invasives include six scrub stations on the Snake River and one at the head of the Granite Creek drainage near the Hoback River. The forest also recently purchased a high-pressure washer. Langston is hopeful the forest can hire a seasonal technician who would tow the washer to various boat launches in the Jackson Hole area.
Populations of invasive aquatics already exist in the region.
For instance, New Zealand mud snails can be found in the Snake River as it runs through the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. The main transport for these species is people, especially boaters and anglers using contaminated gear.
The partners participating in the survey included the Snake River Fund, Trout Unlimited, the Jackson National Fish Hatchery, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Teton Conservation District, Teton County Weed and Pest, Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest and various outfitters.
“If we didn’t have all these partners, we wouldn’t have accomplished anything on the forest,” Langston said.
While those partners fund and implement a variety of programs designed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasives species, Langston said those measures only go so far.
People who are interested in more information about aquatic invasive species can visit cleaninspectdry.com. People who wish to report a possible invasive species population can call 1-877-STOP-ANS.