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State to add muscle to regs halting mussels
By Paul Bruun, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: September 26, 2012
Cost estimates of $6-plus million for the Little Horsethief Canyon fire would be a drop in the bucket of what this region would face annually to cope with an invasion from the aquatic nuisance species plaguing waterways elsewhere in the U.S. The invadors include fast-growing foreign aquarium and ornamental grasses, mussels, crawfish, gobies, a variety of instantly multiplying carp, ruthless snakeheads, snails, algae and more.
These unwanted invaders can be accidentally transferred to new locations by hitchhiking in uncleaned boat bilges, engine cooling systems, on your boots, inside a kayak or by clinging to boat trailers. Unthinking aquarium owners regularly dump both exotic fish and grasses into local waterways. Kelly Warm Springs and its inventory of invasive snails and fish is a favorite local dump site.
After a slow start, the Wyoming Legislature and Game and Fish Department are revving up regulations that mandate all boats be inspected prior to launching in Wyoming waters. In addition, Wyoming will institute mandatory border-crossing boat inspections and an official sealed watercraft certification program. Trained inspectors will be authorized to use impoundment and penalties for refusal or noncompliance.
Wyoming requires purchase and visible hull display of an annual aquatic invasive species sticker by both resident and nonresident boaters operating oar/sail and powerboats over 10 feet.
Of particular interest to Jackson-area residents and Idaho fishing guides migrating daily between the states is a new interstate requirement that includes the Snake River system.
In a recent email to outfitters and guides, Rob Gipson, Region One Game and Fish fisheries supervisor, explains, “We have worked hard with administration to include an exemption for resident boaters who fish on the South Fork above Heise Bridge one day and then the Snake River in Wyoming the next day. The exact wording follows:
“Any Wyoming resident transporting a watercraft that was only used in Wyoming or on an interstate water during the past 30 days, who enters another state en route to a Wyoming water or returning from an interstate water and does not encounter a mandatory aquatic invasive species check station, may launch in the state of Wyoming without inspection.”
Rob says the above requirement applies only to Wyoming residents, and all Idaho residents will have to be inspected prior to launch each time they enter the state and boat in Wyoming.
The public information gathering meeting on this landmark G&F regulation is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Alpine Civic Center.
Unfortunately, after reading Rob’s memo and the proposed legislation, I mistakenly thought the Alpine meeting was next week.
Tonight isn’t much lead time, and I apologize for neglecting this important topic.
See the draft AIS regulation at WGFD.wyo.gov. Deadline for submitting public comment is Oct. 12. Send written comments to Wyoming Game and Fish Dept., Laramie Regional Office ATTN: Fish Division Regulations, 528 S. Adams St., Laramie, WY 82070. Phone 307-745-4046 for information.
This newspaper is crammed with high-profile wildlife concerns over gray wolves, grizzly bears, the supposedly disastrous effects of continued elk feeding, lead bullet particle health concerns on predators, birds and humans and endless federal, state and environmental organization lawsuits.
The wildlife disaster Wyoming, and especially the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, may suffer from the onslaught of aquatic invasive species, none of which can be controlled, is incalculable. Water transportation, energy, recreation and many forms of wildlife would be pushed beyond recovery. Bellyachers who want to get government out of our daily lives are blind to the physical and environmental mess facing Wyoming resources if invasives aren’t prevented from landing here.
To date, minimal inspection stations and a few marine mechanics luckily have nabbed quagga mussel-toting boats before they could infect Wyoming waters. In addition to effective inspections and public education, our state also needs some very good luck to maintain an invasive-free status.
The ink is drying as a new partner group assumes ownership/management of the venerable Jack Dennis Sports Inc., which includes the landmark Town Square store/gallery as well as the dual Teton Village entities of Pepi Stiegler Sports and a ground-floor shop at the Alpenhof.
The partnership is headed by Eddie Opler and close friends Phips Moriarty and Steve Andrews. The trio assumes corporate reins from previous owners Bill Ward, Ed Opler, Thomas Chrystie, Jack Dennis and George Thompson. In a separate transaction, this new group also takes control of the Trading Post, a related real estate entity on Town Square.
Eddie Opler is the son of former Jack Dennis Sports co-owner Ed Opler and also serves as president of the family-owned World’s Finest Chocolates. A graduate of Deerfield Academy and Middlebury College, Eddie Opler lived in Wilson during most of his high school and college years. An avid outdoorsman, climber and soccer/football player, Opler is committed to the highest level of expertise in fishing, hunting, camping and skiing for both locals and tourists.
“When it became clear to me and a number of other Jackson Hole wannabes from Chicago, we jumped at the chance to get involved in ownership and to help drive these great businesses into the future. It is our belief that the team of managers and experts already in place have tremendous ideas as to how we can capitalize on this transition. Working in conjunction with my dad (current part owner) and the team, we anticipate developing a clear road map over the next couple of months and look forward to continuing to service the Jackson community — near and far — as has been the tradition.
“We hope to do our part to lead Jackson Hole out of the difficulties of the past few years.”
A call from longtime friend, former ski patrolman and veteran Jackson Hole fishing guide, Phil “Smiley” Steck elaborated on the Sept. 12 column concerning vandalism at trailheads and boat ramps.
Phil reminded me that it was 31 years ago when the colorful Deadmans Bar Volkswagen engine and transmission heist occurred. At the time, Phil was a seasonal ranger for Grand Teton National Park and remembered noticing a Volkswagen bus left overnight along a park roadway. The bus sported an unusual artistic mark painted on its sides.
The bus was gone when Phil passed the area on patrol the next day. Shortly afterward authorities discovered the engine had been removed from a Volkswagen Beetle parked at Deadmans Bar. Phil suspected that the curious Volkswagen bus somehow may have been involved, which led him to describe the vehicle. Authorities nabbed the bus, its owners and the recently installed but stolen engine just as all were puttering out of Jackson.
Thanks, Phil, for the rest of the story!