The first documented case of zebra mussels in TX was in 2006 when a boat from Minnesota was transported to Lake Texoma. A vigilant employee at Highport Marina recognized the mussels on the boat as possible zebra mussels and knowing how devastating they could be he notified the local Game Warden. That boat was quarantined and cleaned prior to being allowed in the water and TPWD put out numerous press releases regarding the incident and even officially recognized the employee for his quick actions. Subsequently, four additional boats from out-of-state were intercepted and sanitized prior to being launched in Lake Texoma. However, on April 3 rd of 2009 the first live specimen in Texas waters was found in Lake Texoma. It was attached to a telephone cable that was laying in the water that went out to a private boat house. Upon this discovery we immediately notified the Oklahoma Dept of Wildlife Conservation, the US Army Corp of Engineers and several other agencies. We also deployed portland samplers in an effort to monitor for more zebra mussels. Over the past 2 years they have quickly expanded in both range and density throughout the entire lake.
Then as Dr. McMahon mentioned in his presentation, based upon the results of his sampling and DNA analyses, TPWD staff investigated Lake Ray Roberts on July 17th and confirmed the presence of zebra mussels; juvenile zebra mussels were found at several locations throughout the reservoir. The following day, July 18 th , TPWD staff investigated the tailrace below Lake Ray Roberts and confirmed the presence of ZM’s there as well. On July 18 th , we also had staff on Lake Lewisville checking settlement samplers, looking around marinas and searching the upper portion of Lake Lewisville where the Elm Fork of the Trinity River flows into the lake and we did not find any evidence of zebra mussels.
TPWD has been regulating harmful and potentially harmful fishes since as far back as 1967 and then around 1989-1990 that regulation was expanded to include harmful or potentially harmful shellfishes and aquatic plants. However, the larval form of zebra mussels are microscopic and not visible to the naked eye. And because Chris Churchill of the US Geological Survey documented zebra mussel veligers in Lake Texoma, even during the winter months, it meant that boaters and anglers using contaminated lakes could be illegally transporting zebra mussels at any time of the year and not realize it. Thus, on May 17, 2012, TPWD enacted a new law stating that persons who took the necessary precautions of draining all water from their boats and any other receptacle or system capable of containing lake water before leaving a water body that is listed under the regulation would not be in violation of state laws prohibiting their possession. This new regulation and the act of draining all water does not exempt boaters or transporters from laws governing the possession of adult or visible stages of zebra mussels or other harmful species. Initially this new regulation was enacted on the Red River, which included the TX side of Lake Texoma, and Lake Lavon. However, on July 30 th , our Executive Director, Carter Smith, by way of an emergency rule also added all waters of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River above the Lewisville Dam. Which means that any angler or boater now leaving Lake Ray Roberts or Lake Lewisville must also drain all water before hitting the road.
We are monitoring lakes across the state for the presence of zebra mussels using settlement samplers and simple shoreline inspections. We have developed PCR analysis techniques that will allow us to test lakes for ZM DNA. But because our lab is on a working hatchery and a river system not contaminated with zebra mussels there is obvious concern about possible contamination so we are working on finalizing our sample collection and handling procedures and HACCP plans. And because cross polarized light microscopy is one of the most accurate early detection methods, and because we will need to begin inspecting water samples collected by TPWD Game Wardens and State Park Officers for the presence of veligers as a result of the new regulation requiring boaters to drain all water before leaving a lake, we purchased the equipment and staff will be getting trained by Dr. McMahon in identifying zebra mussel larvae under the microscope.
We continue to work very closely with …. Over 80 TPWD staff, Army Corps of Engineers staff and marina owners/operators were trained by Bill Zook who is a nationally recognized expert in boat inspection and decontamination proceedures State Game Wardens and State Park Officers investigate violations Worked with ACOE to get Boaters Advisory Signs put up at the ramps on Texoma, Lavon, Ray Roberts and Lewisville Marina Owners and Operators and their staff are key partners in helping stop the spread of ZM’s across the State!!! Working with TXDOT to see if we cant get some ZM information into their Commercial Boat Hauling Permit Application Process and to see if they will notify us of when a Commercial Hauler applies for a permit to transport large boats into or around the state.
Last year TPWD and a number of partners consisting of River Authorities, Municipalities, Federal and State agencies kicked off a public awareness campaign. Here is a list of all the different outlets and promotional materials that have been developed and utilized.
Sent to 220,000 registered boaters on 8/26/11
Registered boaters – 90,000
Produced 600,000 with a grant from APHIS
37 buoys installed this spring at Texoma
I have to recognize our Public Awareness Campaign partners because without their support it would not be possible.
Zebra Mussels in Texas
Zebra Mussels in Texas
Brief HistoryFirst documented case in2006 on a boat fromMinnesotaApril 2009, first livespecimen found in TXwaters in TexomaAugust 2009, livespecimens found inSister Grove Creek
Brief HistoryJuly 17, 2012 live specimens found in LakeRay RobertsJuly 18, 2012 live specimens found in thetailrace below Lake Ray Roberts.
New RegulationsMay 17, 2012: Law stating that persons who took the necessary precautions of draining all water from their boats before leaving a listed water body would not be in violation of state laws prohibiting the possession of microscopic forms of harmful species. This new regulation and the act of draining all water does not exempt persons from the possession of adult or visible stages of zebra mussels or other harmful species. Applied to the Red River, including Lake Texoma, and Lake Lavon.July 30, 2012: Emergency rule: All waters of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River above the Lewisville Dam, including Lewisville and Ray Roberts.
TPWD MonitoringMonitoring lakes across the stateDeveloping PCR techniquesCross Polarized Light Microscopy
TPWD & UT-A MonitoringTexoma Possum KingdomLavon Richland ChambersRay Roberts Cedar CreekConroe ForkEagle Mountain TawakoniGrapevine LivingstonLewisville PalestineRay Hubbard AthensJoe Pool Lake WorthArlington BenbrookGranbury Marine CreekBridgeport
TPWD EffortsWorking closely with water districts, river authorities,USACOE, USFWS, USGS and othersGame Wardens and State Park Police investigateviolationsWorking with marina’sTXDOT
Awareness Campaign220,000 oversized postcards mailed to registeredboatersEmail blast to registered boaters (90,000)16 billboards on key thoroughfares around Texomaand north TXStencils painted on boat ramps and boardwalks onTexoma47 gas stations had pump toppers and/or “stationdomination” (cooler door clings, floor stickers,standees, counter mats, ice bin clings)Display banners for marinas and boat dealers
Awareness CampaignOnline banner ads (Accu-weather, Google andFacebook)Smart phone ads (iPhone and Android Apps)Print ads in TPW magazine, Texas Monthly andTPWD Outdoor AnnualRadio features, 72 stations contracted2,000 color posters 11”x17”600,000 wallet cards75,000 brochures developed and printed37 Buoys at boat ramps and marinas on Texoma
Campaign PartnersN. TX Municipal Water San Jacinto RiverDistrict AuthorityTarrant Regional Water Lady Bird JohnsonDistrict Wildflower CenterTrinity River Authority Brazos River AuthorityCity of Dallas City of GrapevineSabine River Authority City of HoustonCanadian River City of WacoMunicipal Water Upper Trinity RegionalAuthority Water District