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    Santa Monica Mountains

    National Recreation Area California

Battle against New Zealand mud snail intensifies

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Date: November 2, 2006

From  The Malibu Times
www.mudsnails.com

The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, UCLA and Heal the Bay released a report last month that says the highly invasive New Zealand mud snail is present in 15 of the 44 sites surveyed in the Malibu Creek watershed. Mud snails were found in Medea Creek, Malibou Lake and multiple sites in Malibu Creek and Las Virgenes Creek, including the confluence of Las Virgenes and Malibu Creeks.

The presence of New Zealand mud snails threatens current efforts at habitat restoration and protection, particularly those to restore populations of the endangered steelhead trout, according to Heal the Bay.

"The good news is many of the watershed's streams are not yet infested, so we can act now to protect the others," said Los Angeles City Councilmember Jack Weiss, chair of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, in a press release.

Typically spread by humans on wet boots, waders and gear, New Zealand mud snails reproduce by cloning. A single snail is capable of producing a colony of 40 million in the course of a single year. In large numbers, these, algae-eating snails can completely cover a streambed and wreak havoc on local stream ecosystems, causing devastating impacts on local fish and amphibians.

Around 400 warning signs will be posted at trailheads and access points throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. The signs describe simple steps to prevent the spread of mud snails, including transferring anything wet from stream to stream, removing all mud and debris and completely drying one's belongings.

"Although there is no evidence to indicate they have spread to other Santa Monica Mountain watersheds at this time, these findings make clear the need to prevent further spread of the New Zealand mud snail to all Southern California streams," said Mark Abramson, Stream Team manager for Heal the Bay, who initiated the site study. "There is no easy way to eradicate the snail."

Efforts are currently underway to develop education and outreach on mud snails, and to incorporate decontamination protocols into Santa Monica Mountains environmental monitoring programs. Many monitoring programs were suspended following the discovery of the New Zealand mud snail in May 2006 and are now set to resume over the next few months.

Did You Know?

Rangers from California State Parks and the National Park Service discuss program ideas.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was established in 1978, but the National Park Service did not own public parkland in the area until 1980. National Park Rangers devised clever ways to promote the national park goals without land by creating thriving partnerships with many agencies.