SPEARFISH, S.D. (KELO) — Fishery officials asked Thursday for tougher rules as they try to slow the spread of zebra mussels in the Missouri River and requested three more species be declared threats to South Dakota waters.
The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission agreed to propose the additional regulations.
Commissioners and Game, Fish and Parks Department officials called on all South Dakotans to join the fight.
Governor Kristi Noem has already issued a statewide column and distributed a video. Other state departments are cooperating.
The potential cost is high. Estimates Thursday had state government paying as much as $81 million without a guarantee of permanent success.
One proposed rule would permanently place two more Missouri River reservoirs, Lake Sharpe and Lake Francis Case, on the containment waters list regarding watercraft.
Already on the permanent list is a third Missouri River reservoir, Lake Lewis and Clark, as well as the southern-most stretch of the river down to its meeting point with the Big Sioux River, along with several neighboring waters.
Divers reportedly didn’t find any sign of adult zebra mussels at Oahe Dam upstream from Pierre and Fort Pierre. Lake Oahe is the fourth Missouri River reservoir in South Dakota.
Another step would add spiny waterflea, round goby and white perch as aquatic invasive species.
A public hearing on those proposals is set for the next commission meeting October 3 at 2 p.m. CT at Arrowwood Resort, commonly known as Cedar Shore, at 1500 Shoreline Drive, outside Oacoma.
“This certainly is a statewide issue,” John Lott, the state Wildlife Division’s aquatic-section chief, told commissioners. “Everyone from irrigators to municipal water users.”
Lott said “a very strategic response” is being developed for messaging and work on the ground. Other officials reported many steps have been taken this summer.
GFP Secretary Kelly Hepler said new laws could be sought in the Legislature’s 2020 session.
They could include mandatory boat inspections and giving law enforcement clear authority to impound boats and to stop vehicles on highways to inspect vessels.
Among actions so far have been placing vinyl signs at key areas, using message boards east and west of Chamberlain and in the Pickstown area to make motorists aware, and stopping boats for drain-plug checks.