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ISDA completes treatment to eradicate quagga on the Snake River near Twin Falls

Posted at 6:04 PM, Oct 13, 2023

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Idaho officials have now wrapped up treatment of the Snake River near Twin Falls in an effort to get rid of invasive quagga mussels.

But the area isn't open to the public - just yet.

Twin Falls resident Jamie Carlton was out on the Blue Lakes golf course, next to Centennial Park. Carlton said he was a boater, and I shared his thoughts about decontaminating a boat after each use.

"If we're at that point where it needs to be done, I'm all for it, get those boats inspected, washed off as best as they can so we can all get back and enjoy it," Carlton told Idaho News 6.

Jamie is just one of thousands of people who regularly use the Snake River who are awaiting word of how the treatment for invasive mussels has gone and when the river will get back to normal.

ISDA’s Nic Zurfluh has been pulling long hours while stationed on the Snake River for three weeks now.

Zurfluh is the bureau chief of invasive species and noxious weeds at ISDA, so you could say he's been training for something like this for a while.

"The treatment is wrapped up today at noon,” Zurfluh told Idaho News 6. “We're currently in the process of demobilizing, cleaning equipment, gathering it all up, securing it, and then we're going to be sending some folks home for much-needed rest."

After a few days off, Zurfluh and his ISDA crews will be back next week to monitor the water flow, and copper content and evaluate the dissipation of the copper chelate treatment.

RELATED | ISDA release eradication plan for Snake River Quagga Mussels

The coming weeks of study will help determine how effective the treatment was, and what the next steps for the river are.

One factor that will determine how soon the Snake will be opened back up to recreational boaters and other users is dependent on how quickly boat-wash stations can be put in place at launches in the affected area.

Once the boat launches are re-opened, a mandatory wash, drain, and dry policy is likely to be put in place and could last for 5 years.

Zurfluh said getting used to boat-washes may take some time, but the decontamination stations which can provide 140-degree water will be free, and would only take about 5 minutes.

"I'm a boater myself so I'm always trying to find that balance, we don't want to have these water bodies closed any longer than we have to,’ Zurfluh said. “So we're just trying to have a sense of patience as we're opening the river back up as we're trying to figure out where to go next, just have a sense of patience as we're opening back up."

Twin Falls County Commissioner Brent Reinke told Idaho News 6 that the county will be working with the Department of Agriculture to reopen the parks as rapidly as possible.

The county's declaration of emergency closure of Centennial Park extends until Oct. 20, and the parks should reopen somewhere around then, - although the boat launches could remain closed until ISDA is satisfied with the outcomes of the treatment.