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Boat inspections for invasive species resume this week in southern Oregon. Prevention is only one of the ways government officials are responding to the threat of unwelcome water critters.
The ten-minute inspections will take place near Ashland. By May, they'll be in Ontario, Lakeview, and Klamath Falls.
Inspectors are most worried about quagga and zebra mussels. They haven’t infested Oregon waterways yet – but in other parts of the country, they’ve clogged up pipes and harmed ecosystems.
Mark Sytsma directs the Center for Lakes and Reservoirs at Portland State University. He’s presenting research on quagga mussels later this week to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
One of Sytsma’s studies looks at whether the Columbia River’s temperature and calcium levels would allow the mussels to thrive.
“At least the preliminary results are -- and I would stress that these are preliminary -- that it looks like the Columbia is right on the threshold for growth of these organisms,” Sytsma said.
Sytsma is partway through another study into how well different coatings might protect infrastructure, like Northwest dams, against the invasive mussels -- should they arrive in the Columbia.