Upper Columbia Conservation Commission established, members appointed

In response to the invasive mussel detections in two Montana waterways last year, the 2017 Legislature established the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission (UC3) to enhance early detection and rapid response efforts through increased coordination with water management agencies within the Columbia River Basin in Montana, as well as provincial and state partners in the basin.

“Ensuring our early detection monitoring programs are coordinated and comprehensive, as well as preparing for an emergency response to an AIS detection will be the focus of the group,” said Tom Woolf, Montana’s Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau chief. “The Columbia River Basin is the largest watershed in the lower 48 that doesn’t have mussels and Montana is working hard to keep it that way.”

The following individuals/organizations were appointed by Governor Bullock to serve on the commission.

• Dennis Clairmont, Pablo. Qualification: representative of Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Clairmont represents the Pablo District on the CSKT Tribal Council.

• Lori Curtis, Whitefish. Qualification: representative of conservation districts. Curtis is the Flathead conservation district Supervisor and the director of science and education at the Whitefish Lake Institute.

• Mike Koopal, Whitefish. Qualification: member-at-large. Koopal is the Executive Director of the Whitefish Lake Institute. 

• Paul Kusnierz, Noxon. Qualification: representative of the hydropower utility industry. Kusnierz is a fisheries biologist at Avista Utilities. 

• Tom Woolf, Helena. Qualification: representative of the Invasive Species Council. Woolf is the Chief of the Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Nominations for individuals to represent private landowners, private industry and recreational organizations are still being accepted. For more information, visit http://dnrc.mt.gov/divisions/cardd/montana-invasive-species program/upper-columbia-conservation-commission-uc3.

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