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Montana wildlife officials planning public meeting on Lake Elmo draining

Posted at 10:24 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 00:24:34-05

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is planning a public meeting to discuss a plan to drain Lake Elmo to get rid of invasive Asian clams.

Bob Gibson, FWP communications manager, said Thursday an environmental assessment will have to be done before any action is taken.

Draining the lake to make it cold and dry is the best way to get rid of the clams, according to Gibson.

It is a method that has worked for other invasive species.

"States like Nebraska have drained ponds and have drained lakes, some of them much bigger than Lake Elmo, to get rid of invasive species specifically," Gibson told Q2 News. "And we will definitely be consulting with those folks. There's a sense of urgency because we don't want the clams to move from the lake to any other water body in Montana. This is the only place where they exist in Montana right now."

That decision could be to drain the lake next winter, drain it later or do nothing.

Gibson said Fish and Wildlife will soon hold a meeting to hear concerns and questions from the public, including the Billings Bench Water Association, which owns the canals that allow water into and out of the lake.

Wildlife officials told Yellowstone County commissioners about the plan at a meeting Tuesday. The clam were first discovered at Lake Elmo last summer and likely came from a boat or equipment used on the Columbia River in Oregon.

Along with draining, FWP could also work on dredging, fish habitat and a board walk.

The clams are dime and quarter sized.