by Richard Uhlhorn
April Slagle’s Environmental Studies 202 Class joined Lake Chelan Research Institute’s Phil Long to sample the beach adjacent to Chelan Ranger District for Eurasian Asian Clams, and to learn how to use an underwater Remote Operational Vehicle to explore the near shore littoral zone for invasive species.
The Asian Clam sampling takes place within a one square meter zone. The students dig down into the substrate and then sift through the recovered material for evidence of clam populations.
In 2019, students found 99 live clams within the square meter. On Friday, April 1, the students found evidence of the Asian clam but no live clams. This puzzled Dr. Long who suggested that the sampling area was too near the shore and that farther out might deliver different results.
Ken Gordon, ROV operator, introduced the students to the ROV’s operation and gave the students an opportunity to operate the device. Dr. Long hopes to obtain funding to purchase enough coaxial cable to take the ROV to the deepest part of Lake Chelan where no one has ever visited before.
Invasive species into Lake Chelan has become a huge concern of the Research Institute and the Lake Chelan Watershed Planning Unit. While Eurasian Clams are already present, other invasive species like the Zebra and Quagga mussels, if accidentally introduced, would create a massive and destructive situation that would eventually cost millions to reverse.
With so many watercraft owners visiting Lake Chelan, the National Park Service is funding a May through November mobile water craft inspection program on weekends and during tournaments like the Lake Chelan Hydroplane races. Currently the grant is for one year but can be extended for an additional three years.
The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is operating boat inspection services at the main borders into the State. These include Spokane, Portland/Vancouver, BC, and CleElum.
There are other near shore issues being investigated by the Research Institute including the development of algae along the shorelines in the lower Wapato Basin and the increase presence of milfoil which is now estimated at 20 acres.
Check out the Lake Chelan Institute’s booth at this Saturday’s Earth Day Fair.