Invasive mudsnails result from “trying to maintain an artificial ecosystem”

KUOW reports on the recent discovery of New Zealand mud snails in Capitol Lake in Olympia:

Capitol Lake makes a scenic backdrop for the Washington state Capitol and downtown Olympia. But it’s hardly a pristine ecosystem. In fact, it’s a man–made reservoir infested with noxious weeds. And it’s filling up with sediment. Jeff Dickison is a biologist with the Squaxin Island Tribe.

Dickison: “This is not the first invasive species there, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Most of them are resulting from the fact that they’re trying to maintain an artificial ecosystem there and it just really doesn’t work that way when you have a significant river system flowing into Puget Sound.”

State, county and tribal officials want to take out the dam beneath Olympia’s Fifth Avenue and restore Capitol Lake to what it once was: the tidal estuary of the Deschutes River. Officials from Tumwater and the Port of Olympia want to dredge the lake and keep managing it as a freshwater reservoir.

The long–term fate of Capitol Lake remains a political football. But in the short–term, the Department of Fish and Wildlife hopes to have Capitol Lake temporarily drained during a cold snap this winter. The mud snails apparently can’t handle freezing temperatures.

State biologists did a comprehensive search for the snails upstream on the Deschutes River last week. They were happy not to have found any.