EDITORIAL: Mussel fight must transcend politics

Print Article

Itís hard to imagine how potentially devastating a tiny invasive species like the quagga mussel can be on an ecosystem, but thatís no excuse for shutting our eyes to the danger.

Today and tomorrow, Daily Inter Lake reporter Patrick Reilly outlines the threat of quagga and zebra mussels in Western Montana, and shows that from the first discovery in October 2016 until today, the state has walked a zigzag line between politics and science that has the potential to impact our stateís ecosystem and economy for decades to come.

With the aid of a Freedom of Information request, the Inter Lake has pieced together the first full account of how biologists, bureaucrats and politicians quietly responded to the emergency in the first weeks after it was discovered. Was the delay in informing the public until after Election Day motivated by a wish by Gov. Bullockís office to keep it from becoming a political issue? Or was it, as explained to the Inter Lake, a decision made to avoid the issue becoming lost in the hubbub surrounding the general election.

No one can say for sure, nor can anyone know definitively whether revealing the discovery of mussels would have been a political plus or minus if it had come out before the election, but ultimately how we respond to the scientific crisis caused by the presence of quagga mussels in Montanaís waterways is more important than any one election.

Which brings us to the current state of fighting against a quagga invasion in Montana, and especially in the Flathead Basin.

As you will learn in Mondayís front-page story, there is a dedicated and conscientious team of scientists and amateurs who have been working for the past year to contain the mussels and prevent their spread into new waterways.

Sadly, this is a task that isnít glamorous and may not be fully understood by either the general public or the politicians who represent us. As Montana endures a state budget crisis, there has been a regrettable move to cut funding for one of the most important partners in the fight against aquatic invasive species.

As the Inter Lake first reported, the Flathead Basin Commission, which has been coordinating the response in Northwest Montana, is being targeted for a massive cutback that will essentially leave the commission unstaffed. This is a dangerous and short-sighted move, compounded by the fact that state attorneys are questioning the Basin Commissionís authority to sell boat stickers that would raise more than $1 million.

The continuance of the Flathead Basin Commission, which has long proved its usefulness, is of paramount importance, and ought to justify all local legislators getting behind the call for a special session of the Legislature as soon as possible. The stateís budget crisis cannot be an excuse to surrender in the war against invasive species.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Airport lease may be best course

December 15, 2017 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The city of Kalispell has been between the proverbial rock and a hard spot for decades with its municipal airport. The airport is expensive to operate, and commercial and residential development has ...

Comments

Read More

Shaping the Flatheadís future

December 10, 2017 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Two long-term visions for the Flathead Valley ó the Kalispell downtown plan and the U.S. 93 South Whitefish corridor plan ó at long last have been adopted by our local government leaders. Both will c...

Comments

Read More

Brave firefighters head into danger

December 08, 2017 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Although Montanans understand fire danger better than most, we still are overwhelmed by the insanely dangerous wildfires burning in the Los Angeles area this week. The pictures are terrifying. The un...

Comments

Read More

FVCC shows oomph as economic force

December 06, 2017 at 10:51 am | Daily Inter Lake A recently completed fiscal study on Flathead Valley Community College confirmed what many of us already suspected ó the campus and its students are a major force behind Northwest Montanaís economy. ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

News: (406) 837-5131
Advertising: 406-758-4410
Bigfork Eagle
c/o Daily Inter Lake
PO Box 7610
Kalispell, MT 59904

©2017 Bigfork Eagle Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X