MDC to hold public forums on preventing invasive “rock snot”

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will hold public open-house forums in March and April to help educate anglers and boaters about the dangers of “didymo” or “rock snot.” This invasive alga forms large, thick mats on the bottom of lakes and streams, smothering aquatic life vital to the food chain that supports many fish species, including trout. Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) has been found just south of the Missouri-Arkansas border in the White River.

According to MDC Fisheries Biologist Mark VanPatten, preventing the spread of this invasive species is critical to the health of Missouri’s lakes and streams. He added that recreational equipment such as boats, lifejackets, and fishing gear -- particularly waders -- are the most likely ways for Didymo to spread into Missouri.

“In addition to educating anglers and boaters about the threats of Didymo, we are considering potential regulation changes to prevent the spread of this invasive alga,” said VanPatten. “Public input in this process is very important.”

Public meetings will be held at or near the following fish hatcheries:

Montauk State Park: Searcy Building, Tuesday, March 15, 6 p.m.

Bennett Spring State Park: Hatchery Building, Monday, March 21, 6 p.m.

Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery – Lake Tanyecomo: U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dewey Short Visitor Center at Table Rock Dam, Saturday, March 26, 1 p.m.

Roaring River State Park: Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center, Thursday, April 7, 6 p.m.

Maramec Spring Park: James Memorial Library Meeting Room, 300 W. Scioto St. in St. James, Monday, April 11, 6 p.m.

To help reduce the spread of Didymo, remember, “Check. Clean. Dry.”

Check all gear and equipment and remove any visible algae. Do not dispose of algae by putting it down a drain or into bodies of water.

Clean all gear and equipment with a solution of 2-percent bleach, 5-percent saltwater, or dishwashing detergent. Allow all equipment to stay in contact with the solution for at least one minute. Soak all soft items, such as felt-soled waders and life jackets, in the solution for at least 20 minutes.

Dry all gear and equipment for at least 48 hours by exposing it to sunlight.

VanPatten added that replacing felt-soled waders with waders that have rubber or synthetic soles can also minimize the risk of spreading rock snot and other invasive species.

For more information about the meetings, contact VanPatten at 573-751-4115 ext. 3892 or mark.vanpatten@mdc.mo.gov.