Did you know that a tiny mollusk native to Europe can wreak havoc on boats, pipes, and other infrastructure in California? Quagga and zebra mussels were introduced to the United States in the 1980s through ballast water from a European ship. These invasive mussels reproduce quickly, and once established, form dense mats that can blanket infrastructure, water pipes, and boat hulls. In addition, they alter water chemistry, water clarity, and aquatic habitat.
Fortunately, there are currently no quagga or zebra mussels in North Coast waterways, including Mill Creek Ponds, Lake Mendocino, or Lake Sonoma. “Thankfully, we have not found any invasive mussels and we hope that trend continues,” says Amber Fisette, Deputy Director of the Mendocino County Water Agency. “The County knows that the mussels are present in Southern California, where they cause enormous damage to watercraft, water infrastructure, and wildlife habitat. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen here.”
To increase public awareness of this issue, the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (MCRCD) and County staff will be hosting a public event at Upper Mill Creek Pond on July 2nd during Free Fishing Day, talking to anglers and others who enjoy the beautiful park. “The key to preventing the introduction of the mussels is a simple motto: Clean, Drain and Dry!” says Joe Scriven, MCRCD Assistant Executive Director. “Every time you remove your boat from a waterbody, clean your boat and gear of all plant material; drain bilge, ballast and buckets; and thoroughly dry all equipment before launching anywhere else.”
The July 2nd event is co-sponsored by the Mendocino County Water Agency, the California Division of Boating and Waterways, and MCRCD. Want to test your knowledge about quagga and zebra mussels? Take the on-line quiz at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5Z33LYB! For more information about the ongoing efforts to keep invasive mussels out of our local waterways, visit www.mendocinocounty.org/dontmoveamussel.