Outdoor notes: Adult zebra mussels at Cunningham Lake; Platte River State Park shooting workshops; Health alert for Willow Creek, Rockford lakes

LINCOLN, Neb. – The presence of adult zebra mussels in Omaha’s Cunningham Lake has been confirmed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. As a result, the lake now is listed as an infested water body.

Microscopic young zebra mussels – or veligers – recently were detected in a water sample collected at Cunningham Lake by Game and Parks. Additional sampling found zebra mussels in various stages of development, including adults.

A zebra mussel is an aquatic invasive species that looks like a D-shaped clam, with alternating light and dark bands. Most zebra mussels are less than an inch long.

“These mussels form dense colonies and filter large amounts of plankton from water, decreasing the food supply for native species,’’ said Daryl Bauer, fisheries outreach program manager with Game and Parks. “Mussels increase water clarity, which expands the growth of unwanted vegetation. Their sharp shells are a hazard in swimming areas, and they clog water intake pipes.”

It is important not to transport any lake or river water, mud, or plant material away from its source as that could transport aquatic invasive species to another water body. Young zebra mussels are too small to see with the naked eye, so they can be transported unintentionally with water in bilges, outboard motors, live wells and bait buckets. Adult zebra mussel can attach to boats, trailers and aquatic vegetation.

There is concern that boats moored along the Missouri River or Cunningham Lake might be moving zebra mussels to other waters if the boats are not properly decontaminated. Boats transporting zebra mussels can be impounded and fined up to $500.

Signs are posted at Cunningham Lake to alert boaters and anglers to follow the Clean, Drain and Dry protocol to prevent the spread of zebra mussels. Visit neinvasives.com for details. There are no effective treatments to control zebra mussels once they have infested a water body other than draining the body to low levels to allow the mussels to dry out or freeze.

The City of Omaha, University of Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Game and Parks will increase surveillance of boaters and anglers to increase awareness of the infestation. Additionally, the agencies will determine future management action on the area.

For more information about zebra mussels, visit neinvasives.com or read the 2018 Nebraska Fishing Guide. Report any suspected observation of zebra mussels to Game and Parks at 402-471-0641.

Summer workshops at Platte River State Park to teach the basics of shooting

LINCOLN, Neb. – Bring the whole family to the range this summer at Platte River State Park (SP) and learn to shoot.

A pair of introductory workshops, held Aug. 8 and 15, will focus on archery and shotgun shooting, respectively. New and novice shooters will enjoy learning how to shoot safely and accurately from experienced instructors in a family friendly facility.

Workshops will be held at the Roger G. Sykes Outdoor Heritage Education Complex from 6-8 p.m. at $15 per person per session. Firearms, archery equipment and safety gear are provided.

Register for these events at OutdoorNebraska.gov/OHEC.

A park permit is required of every vehicle entering Platte River SP, located west of Louisville in Cass County.

Willow Creek, Rockford lakes remain on health alert

LINCOLN, Neb. – Willow Creek Reservoir in Pierce County and Rockford Lake in Gage County remain on health alert.

During water testing earlier this week, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality detected elevated toxin levels produced by blue-green algal blooms in both lakes. Visitors to Willow Creek and Rockford Lake state recreation areas (SRA) should avoid full body contact activities such as swimming, wading, skiing, jet skiing, etc. Non-contact activities such as boating, fishing and camping are OK. Dog owners are urged to keep pets out of the water and not allow them to ingest lake water.

Lakes with beaches and those that allow power boating are tested weekly through the summer months. Health alerts are lifted when algal toxin levels are below advisory concentration for two consecutive weeks.

A park permit is required of each vehicle entering Willow Creek and Rockford SRAs.

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