PRINEVILLE, Ore. - The discovery of invasive quagga or zebra mussels in an Oregon waterbody would trigger a rapid response plan involving a number of agencies and stakeholders that would come together to evaluate and contain the situation. To test and improve Oregon's response plan, a number of groups met in Prineville on April 2 and 3 in a simulated exercise.
"This was an opportunity to test the plan and use the Incident Command System to organize and staff the mock-response team," said Robyn Draheim, Assistant ANS Coordinator, Center for Lakes and Reservoirs at Portland State University. "It gave us the opportunity to answer questions about the roles and authorities of stakeholders in a multi-jurisdictional waterbody."
Lessons learned from the mock exercise will be included in the "Oregon Dreissenid Response Plan," which is being developed by Portland State University, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Marine Board.
"Early detection is critical to stopping the spread of the destructive aquatic invaders," said Rick Boatner, ODFW Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator. "We put a lot of focus on keeping invasive species out of our waters, but we have to be prepared in the event they are introduced."
States where quagga and zebra mussels are established spend millions of dollars a year to contain them and keep water facilities operational. Quagga and zebra mussels also negatively impact recreation and commercial fishing and local economies.
"Boaters need to be good stewards of the waterways and clean, drain and dry their watercraft after every use," said Glenn Dolphin, Marine Board Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator. "An infestation would mean a loss of boating opportunities."
The exercise was supported by the Columbia River Basin Team of the 100th Meridian Initiative. The Team's goal is to prevent the introduction and establishment of quagga or zebra mussels in the Pacific Northwest. It is made up of representatives from the federal and state government, the various Northwest tribes and various industries from the five Northwest states and two Canadian provinces.
Groups participating in the response exercise included U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Marine Board, Oregon Bass Federation, Portland State University, Columbia River Basin Intertribal Fisheries Commission, Crook County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Forest Service, Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Oregon Emergency Management, Pacific State Marine Fisheries Commission, Ochoco Irrigation District, Portland General Electric, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.