Knight: Funding adequate for invasive species prevention

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BOISE — Funding levels are adequate at the state Department of Agriculture to fend off the invasive water milfoil plant and quagga mussels, a division administrator at the agency told state legislators.

Included in that funding, the invasive species stickers required of Idaho boaters generates state revenue that ranges somewhere between $1.2 million and $1.5 million annually, said Agriculture’s Lloyd Knight.

That revenue stream from the fees added to boat licenses has given stability to the program that Knight manages, he said.

“We’re at a point now where, I think, we know what to expect from revenues in the sticker fund,” Knight told state budget writers Wednesday.

Knight said that his Agriculture staff members at the Division of Plant Industries, “work on aquatic weeds and milfoil as well as invasive species.”

“The treatment that we are able to get done, we have adequate funding for that,” Knight said. “So, we are actually in a pretty good position right now and feel very good about the funding that we have there.”

Also, some checking stations for invasive species will open in North Idaho within a month, Knight added.

“Which seems a little crazy when you think about boat movement, because it’s snowy and it’s cold,” Knight said. “But this is when a lot of the snow-birders start to come back from lower Colorado, which is where a lot of the (quagga mussel) infestations and higher risk water bodies are.”

He added: “We may start catching infested boats in the next four to six weeks.”

A “drawdown” policy at Lake Pend Oreille has aided in efforts against the invasive aquatic plant milfoil, Knight said.

“I’d say it’s helped a lot,” he said.

Even so, “We’ve had some challenges, though, with the populations that are deeper down,” Knight said.

The department expects to operate 15 boat-checking stations this year, according to Knight.

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