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Asian Clam Update - 3/1/2012

posted Oct 25, 2011, 5:55 PM by City of Bellingham   [ updated Mar 28, 2012, 10:09 AM ]
Updates on staff efforts to map the extent of, and to develop a response to, the Asian clam infestation in Lake Whatcom
 
 
 
 
March 1, 2012
Staff from the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County conducted a survey at the Sudden Valley Golf Course, with a representative from the Sudden Valley Community Association, after receiving a call from a watershed resident who had seen clam shells on the fairway that had been predated on by birds. Staff discovered several native mussel shells but saw no evidence of any Asian clams at that site.
 
February 29, 2012
Staff met with a dive team from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to discuss options for conducting dive surveys to map the extent of the Asian clam infestation in the lake. WDFW divers conducted two preliminary surveys in Basin 1 of Lake Whatcom to aid in the development of a dive survey protocol for the lake.
 
February 28, 2012
Staff conducted a shoreline survey at a property located in Basin 1 after being contacted by a Lake Whatcom resident. Staff were not able to confirm the presence of Asian clams at this location due to wave action and low water temperature but plan to return later in the season.
 
February 7, 2012
City staff were invited to give a brief update on invasive species prevention efforts and the proposed boat inspection program for Lake Whatcom at the Geneva Neighborhood Association meeting. This meeting gave staff the opportunity to field questions from residents interested in learning more about the Asian clam infestation and proposed efforts for preventing additional introductions.
 
January 12, 2012
Staff conducted shoreline surveys for Asian clams at Dellesta Point. Surveys were conducted at two residential properties as well as at the community boat launch. While no Asian clams were discovered at any of the survey sites, these surveys gave staff a great opportunity to engage members of this community in invasive species prevention efforts. 
 
December 8, 2011
Staff conducted a shoreline survey at North Point Park in Sudden Valley. Asian clams were present at this site. Staff also conducted a snorkel survey near the Sudden Valley Marina but only found 2 Asian clams at this location despite the large area that was covered. It appears that the Sudden Valley Marina is not a point of introduction and that the clams have most likely spread south from the Lakewood/WWU site.
 
December 6, 2011
The Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District invited us to do another demonstration at Sofield Park for District Commissioners and staff. We were also joined by two City Council members as well as staff from the Sudden Valley Community Association. This field trip offered public officials and staff the opportunity to observe staff demonstrating field survey techniques, to ask questions, and to wade out into the water and collect clams. As the weather gets warmer, staff will organize additional field trips for those who are interested in getting a firsthand look at this aquatic invasive species in Lake Whatcom.
 
December 5, 2011
Staff gave an update to the Lake Whatcom Joint Policy Group on Asian clam response efforts to date including an update on surveys being conducted in the watershed and flow predictions made using a lake flow model that was presented to staff in mid-November. Staff also updated the group on some of the challenges that were discussed at the 100th Meridian Initiative - Columbia River Basin Team and the Washington Invasive Species Council meetings.  
 
December 1, 2011
Staff were invited down to Olympia to give a presentation to the Washington Invasive Species Council on the current status of the Asian clam infestation in Lake Whatcom. The presentation focused mainly on the Asian clam infestation but also provided the Council with an update on our recently released Aquatic Invasive Species Action Plan for Lake Whatcom that was reviewed by Council staff. The meeting also provided staff with an opportunity to hear an update on the Washington Invasive Species Council work plan accomplishments for 2011 and goals for 2012.
 
 
November 15, 2011
Staff met with two Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Commissioners at the Sofield Park site in Sudden Valley to demonstrate Asian clam field survey techniques and to discuss options for aquatic invasive species prevention. Staff will conduct another field site visit in early December for other interested public officials and staff.
 
November 9, 2011
Staff from the City of Bellingham and the Whatcom County Noxious Weed Board attended the 100th Meridian Initiative - Columbia River Basin Team meeting in Vancouver, Washington. City staff were invited to give a presentation on the current status and lessons learned from the Asian clam infestation in Lake Whatcom. The meeting was attended by aquatic invasive species representatives from the federal level as well as from Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia. While much of the meeting focused on regional efforts to prevent the spread of zebra/quagga mussels to the Columbia River Basin, other region-specific aquatic invasive species challenges were also discussed. This meeting gave local staff the opportunity to learn about aquatic invasive species prevention and management efforts occurring throughout the region while also allowing us to share aquatic invasive species prevention and response efforts occurring in Whatcom County.
 
November 7, 2011
Staff updated the Lake Whatcom Joint Policy Group on the current status of efforts to map the Asian clam infestation in Lake Whatcom. 
 
November 1, 2011
Staff returned to the Sudden Valley site, Sofield Park, that had been surveyed on October 27 to map the extent of the infestation at that location. Staff continued to find Asian clams as they surveyed the shoreline north of Sofield Park for approximately 200 feet. Substrate in this area was predominately sandy with some small cobble. South of the Park, the substrate became more rocky/large cobble and there were fewer clams present. There was some evidence of predation on clam shells in the area which appears to be heavily used by waterfowl. More surveying needs to be done south of the Park toward the Sudden Valley Marina to determine whether these colonies are connected.
 
October 27-31, 2011
Staff continued to conduct shoreline surveys in Basin 3 and Basin 1 after being contacted by Lake Whatcom residents. Staff found no clams present at a lakefront property located north of the Wildwood Resort. A survey conducted along lakefront property located adjacent to the Sudden Valley Marina was positive for Asian clams. Three additional surveys were conducted in Basin 1 along Northshore Drive. Two sites were negative for Asian clams, most likely due to the silty substrate. The third site, located closer to Bloedel Donovan, was positive for Asian clams. 
 
October 24-25, 2011
Staff presented recommendations for a Lake Whatcom Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program to the City and County Councils. Staff also gave an update on the extent of the Asian clam infestation in Lake Whatcom and Whatcom County to date.
 
Surveyed Locations in Whatcom County to date
Figure 7: Sites surveyed prior to October 25, 2011 (Green = No clams present, Red = Asian clams present).
 
October 17-21, 2011
City and County staff met with diving personnel to discuss diving protocols to assist in mapping the extent of the Asian clam infestation in Lake Whatcom. Staff made contact with Asian clam experts and diving personnel from UC Davis and the Fund for Lake George to discuss diving protocols and lessons learned from their experiences responding to Asian clam infestations in Lake Tahoe and Lake George, respectively.
 
City and County staff featured in a KVOS Newsview Extra on the Asian clam infestation in Lake Whatcom. Staff explained the differences between Asian clams and native mussels and requested that residents with lakefront property at Lake Whatcom and other Whatcom County waterbodies keep a lookout for Asian clams on their beaches and in shallow water on their property. 
 
Residents are asked to contact cfogelsong@cob.org or phone: (360)778-7965 to request a site visit from staff.
 
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to offer their assistance in responding to the recently discovered Asian clam infestations in Lake Whatcom, Whatcom Creek, and Lake Padden.
 
 
Asian Clams at Wildwood
Figure 6: Asian clams discovered at Wildwood on October 19, 2011
 
City and County staff also conducted a survey at the Wildwood Resort at the south end of Lake Whatcom. Staff discovered several areas infested with Asian clams along the Wildwood shoreline. Initial observations indicate that the size of the population at Wildwood is similar to the populations present at the hotspots at the Bloedel Donovan swimming area and the Lakewood/WWU Facility.
 
October 10-14, 2011
Staff presented the Aquatic Invasive Species Action Plan to the City Council, the County Council, and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District Commission. Staff also gave an update on efforts to map the Asian clam infestation to date. Asian clams were also discovered in other area waterbodies including Whatcom Creek and Lake Padden. The extent of the infestation in those two waterbodies is to be determined. County staff also conducted a preliminary survey of Lake Samish but did not find any Asian clams at the locations surveyed.
 
 
October 1-7, 2011
Presented to the Lake Whatcom Joint Policy Group on October 3, 2011. Conducted surveys along north shore of Lake Whatcom including: 2 residences, the Shipp Property (at Olsen Creek), and the beach located at the North Shore Trailhead. Staff also conducted surveys at Sudden Valley at the marina and the AM/PM Beach. No clams were discovered at any of the sites along the north shore or at the AM/PM Beach. Live clams were found at the Sudden Valley Marina.
 
Asian clams and Lake Whatcom in the press:
 
Sites surveyed September 27-30, 2011
Figure 5: Sites surveyed between September 27-30, 2011 
(Green = No clams present, Red = Asian clams present, Yellow = shells present but no live clams).
 
September 30, 2011
City staff held a conference call with Allen Pleus, the Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator for Washington State and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Pleus called to get an update on the infestation and was able to answer staff questions regarding Asian clam impacts to water supply infrastructure and potential response strategies.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Figures 3 and 4: Staff conducting Asian clam survey at Lakewood/WWU Facility
Staff conduct survey at Lakewood/WWU Facility
 
Staff survey Lakewood/WWU Facility
City and County staff continued to conduct beach and shoreline surveys in Basins 2 and 3. Asian clams were located in Basin 3. Surveys conducted at Lakewood turned up a substantial number of live clams at several locations along the shoreline with many clams found buried beneath the sediment. Samples were collected and locations of surveyed sites were recorded using a GPS unit.
 
Upon completion of the survey, City and County staff returned to Basin 1 to check for clams below the sediment. Staff were able to find a considerable number of live clams below the sediment in the swimming area at Bloedel Donovan Park. Staff were also able to confirm the presence of Asian clams at the beach where the initial sample was collected by the resident from Basin 1.
 
 
 
Figures 1 and 2: Staff sieving and swimming to look for Asian clams at Bloedel Donovan
Sieving for Asian clams
 
Staff snorkel to look for Asian clams on the surface
 
September 29, 2011
Staff gave an update to the Interjurisdictional Coordinating Team (ICT) on the preliminary findings from surveys and from the literature review.
 
City and County staff continued communication with representatives from the WDFW, Washington Invasive Species Council, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Washington State Department of Ecology to discuss preliminary findings and potential response strategies.
 
 
 
 
 
September 27, 2011
City and County staff began conducting beach and shoreline surveys in Basin 1. Asian clams were located at two of the three sites surveyed, including the swimming area at Bloedel Donovan Park. Initial surveys turned up mostly shells. Staff collected samples and recorded the location of surveyed sites using a GPS unit.
 
September 26, 2011
City and County staff introduced the Lake Whatcom Aquatic Invasive Species Action Plan to City Council and informed the City Council that there is a confirmed Asian clam infestation in Lake Whatcom. Council were informed that City and County staff would be conducting shoreline surveys to determine the extent of the infestation and potential impacts to the City's intake.
 
September 19-23, 2011
City staff began contacting aquatic invasive species peronnel from the WDFW, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Washington State Department of Ecology to gather information on the potential impacts that might result from an Asian clam infestation in Lake Whatcom.
 
City staff began a more detailed review of the literature to gather information on the impacts that Asian clams have on ecosystems, recreation, and water supply infrastructure as well as response strategies currently being implemented in infested waterbodies.
 
September 19, 2011
Sgt. Klein contacted City staff to confirm that the clams collected by the resident from Basin 1 were Asian clams.
 
September 17, 2011
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers conducted a demonstration boat inspection station at Bloedel Donovan Park. During the event, a resident from Basin 1 approached WDFW officers and City and County staff with a sample of unidentified mollusks that he had collected from his beach. WDFW enforcement officer Sgt. Carl Klein was able to field verify that the unidentified mollusks were Asian clams, Corbicula fluminea. Sgt. Klein took the clams back with him to Olympia where they could be verified by WDFW personnel.
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