TOWNSEND, Mont. — State and local officials are limiting public use of the boat ramp at Toston Reservoir and moved in portable boat cleaning equipment this week in efforts to curb the spread of Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive water weed that hampers water recreation and crowds out native vegetation.
Education and cleaning crews will be at the Toston campground boat ramp throughout the Labor Day weekend, urging boaters to avoid weed patches visible on the edges of the reservoir and to thoroughly inspect, clean and dry boats before moving to other waterways. The Montana Departments of Agriculture and Fish, Wildlife & Parks recently found the noxious weed growing in several locations in Toston Reservoir, the Upper Missouri River near Townsend and the Fort Peck dredge cuts in northeastern Montana.
The Toston Dam boat ramp will be closed Monday through Wednesday after this weekend, and will be available Thursday through Sunday only, until further notice, to allow state personnel to clean boats and educate watercraft owners to avoid spreading the weed.
A multi-agency team is surveying the extent of the weed population in the Missouri River and its tributaries, and is looking at treatment options that could be accomplished yet this fall, according to Pam Converse, Broadwater County weed coordinator.
Herbicide treatments may be an option in shallow, isolated areas such as the Cottonwood channel north of Townsend. Dredge-suction equipment that can remove plants and all their vegetative parts might be used in infested areas on the reservoir, she said.
Watercraft that travel through infested waters can break up the plants and cause them to spread to new areas, particularly if fragments are trapped on the boats or in the engines, said Dave Burch, state weed coordinator at the Montana Department of Agriculture.
Other agencies cooperating in the effort to halt the spread on the Missouri River and its tributaries include the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
For more information, contact the Montana Department of Agriculture (406) 444-3144 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on aquatic invaders and cleaning equipment, go to www.fwp.mt.gov and click on "Inspect. Clean. Dry."
Published: September 1, 2010 4:46:00 PM MDT.
Last Modified: September 14, 2011 4:01:27 PM MDT