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Boaters reminded of their role in stopping spread of zebra mussels

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Since zebra mussels have been confirmed in Pactola Reservoir, National Forest officials want boaters to know a little cleaning can keep the problem from spreading further.

Scott Jacobson is the public affairs officer for the Black Hills National Forest. He said they’ll be paying attention to boats as they leave the water.

“We’re going to see a lot more boating activity on our lakes, just want folks to know there will be watercraft inspection stations operated by South Dakota Game Fish and Parks at our boat docks," Jacobson said. "They’re there to help prevent spread of the zebra mussel that has been detected here at Pactola at least for the last couple of years.”

And if it goes in the water at Pactola, it’s probably liable to be inspected.

“The watercraft will include boats, kayaks, canoes, anything like that, that will actually be in the water, come out of the water, and hold a zebra mussel for a period of time," Jacobson said. "If the condition is moist and wet, the zebra mussel is actually able to survive. The point is to try to minimize the spread of those by having your watercraft inspected.”

The invasive mollusk spread to roughly a dozen lakes in eastern South Dakota before it was confirmed in Pactola last summer.

Jacobson said they’re already causing issues for the reservoir.

“Issues with infrastructure - issues with dams, those sorts of things," Jacobson said. "When there’s negative effects to infrastructure, it is a concern. I’ve heard it’s an issue with other fish species in the lake, so they affect food sources.”

Jacobson reminded boat owners – “clean, drain, and dry” before taking your boats from one lake to the next.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture