On Sept. 3 at the Schwatka Lake Day Use Area, the Yukon Invasive Species Council (YISC) unveiled its Clean, Drain, Dry program.
Signs outlining Clean, Drain, Dry, are popping up near boat launches in Carcross and the Kluane Lake Region, and more can be expected in other areas of the territory.
Clean, Drain, Dry is recognized across North America as the best way to keep the invasive zebra and quagga mussels out of lakes and rivers.
Zebra and quagga mussels have not been found in the Yukon and the Yukon Invasive Species Council wants to keep it that way because the mussels can have devastating effects.
“They will use some of the resources that our native mussels use and it might out-compete the native mussels,” said YISC president Michel Duteau.
“That would be one of the impacts but the worst impacts are what happens in terms of safety for the users, what happens in terms of infrastructure maintenance and the disruption of the rest of the ecosystem.”
Zebra and quagga muscles are filter feeders and can “drastically” change the chemistry of the water, as seen in the Great Lakes, said Duteau.
|The Yukon Invasive Species Council’s new signage about keeping zebra and quagga mussels out of the Yukon. (John Tonin/Yukon News)|
“They can have a huge impact on the composition of the water,” said Duteau. “They will leave water that is much clearer than it used to be but this is an ecosystem that’s completely different from the natural order of the native ecosystem.”
Both mussels are about the size of a thumbnail. Before they become that size, they can’t be seen. Clean, Drain, Dry would ensure the mussels don’t travel between water systems.
“It’s pretty easy to just remove the ones that are sticking on the hull,” said Duteau. “What you can’t detect with the eye is what we should be cleaning.”
Although the mussels aren’t in the territory, Duteau said it’s cheaper to run an education campaign than it would be to have them here.
The threat of the mussels comes from recreational users, who unlike industrial tankers, don’t have regulations to follow.
“We’re dealing with citizens and people that are just doing recreation,” said Duteau. “It’s a lot of people you have to do education with and encourage to be careful.”
Andrea Altherr, the YISC executive director, said the Yukon is protected somewhat by the British Columbia and Alberta borders who check boats entering the province. Altherr said the YISC would like to see the Yukon, Alaska borders start checking for invasive species.
“That would be the easiest because those border officers walk around the cars anyway so it would be effective if they checked,” said Altherr.
“That way we’d be pretty much covered from all our boundaries,” said Duteau.
Once zebra or quagga mussels arrive, they are near impossible to get rid of. Clean, Drain, Dry, covers all boats, including canoes, kayaks and SUPS as well as hip waders.
Contact John Tonin at email@example.com