Middle school students dive into aquatic invasive education at Flathead Lake

Somers Middle School students learning invasive mussel education

KALISPELL- Flathead Lakers, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Montana State Parks and the Flathead Lake Bio Station are partnering to host five mussel walks throughout the Flathead Lake area.

Wednesday marked the first event this season at Flathead Lake State Park in Lakeside.

The mussel walks are a kickoff for the new aquatic invasive species curriculum that will be diving into middle schools next fall.

In April the Flathead Biological Station began a pilot program for an aquatic invasive species curriculum.

Starting with Somers Middle School and Polson Middle School, students had the opportunity to get hands on experience with invasive mussels, and their teacher says it’s all to empower and educate them.

"We are one of the last clean beautiful drainages on the planet so I've been trying to bring that home to them, this is their backyard so it's their responsibility,” said 6th grade teacher, Holiday Madich.

Students went through different activity stations, learned how to clean, drain, and dry equipment, and even watched mussel dogs get to work.

They also walked along the shore picking up excess trash and trying to find mussels, Flathead Lake experts say this aquatic invasive species education is extremely important right now.

"We have recently a few years ago had some invasive mussels be detected in the reservoir, and since that detection the state of Montana has been working actively to increase awareness and education throughout the state,” said Education Coordinator for the Flathead Biological Station, Holly Church.

Starting fall 2019, the awareness and education will begin in middle schools around the area.

With invasive mussels being dangerous, razor sharp, and able to spread easily, this education will hopefully stop this species of mussels from taking over one of Montana’s favorite places.

You can find details on the remaining four walks in the Flathead Valley here.

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