Honeyford bill aims to keep invasive species out of Washington’s waters

They’re coming to wreak havoc on Washington’s waterways unless state officials can stop them now.That’s the message Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, conveyed to the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee Tuesday as he spoke in favor of Senate Bill 6040. It’s his bill to help the state Department of Fish and Wildlife effectively address invasive species through an integrated management approach.

“All I had to do was hold up a license plate that was in Nevada’s Lake Mead for four months and show the committee how the entire surface had become completely overrun by zebra and quagga mussels,” said Honeyford, who represents the 15th Legislative District. “I believe that got the point across. The state needs to take aggressive steps to prevent an infestation in our waterways before it becomes a billion-dollar boondoggle.”

The invasive mussels are small, clam-like creatures that reproduce rapidly and deplete nutrients in the water, jeopardizing power and water infrastructures, damaging ecosystems and destroying recreational areas. SB 6040 would help provide community block grants that can be used for educational campaigns to help keep the public informed about the issue, as well as reinforce the inspection checkpoints the state has in place to keep these and other invasive species out.

“One Canadian province estimates a savings to their economy of about seven million dollars for each year that they do not have these mussels in their waters, so it’s not only a major threat to our quality of life in Washington but to the state’s pocketbook as well,” Honeyford added. “I’ve been working with the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee to secure funding for this bill and I’m confident that I’ve impressed upon him the urgency with which the state must make the prevention of this invasive species a priority.”

To see a dynamic map of how zebra mussels have spread across the United States from 1986 through 2010, please visit http://nationalatlas.gov/dynamic/an_zm.html. SB 6040 is expected to be approved by the Senate natural resources committee in the coming weeks.