Missouri moves to protect its trout streams

Kansas anglers headed to Missouri’s trout waters should leave their felt-soled waders and wading shoes at home.

Both became illegal on March 1, as the state tries to prevent an invasive algae from crippling Missouri’s famous trout waters.

Mark Van Patten, Missouri Department of Conservation fisheries management biologist, said didymo is a form of algae now commonly known as “rock snot.”

“It prefers cold water with low nutrients and mid-rand pH levels,” Van Patten said. “That just so happens to describe our trout streams so very well. We don’t have it in Missouri yet, but we’re taking steps up front, like the felt wader ban, and making a huge education effort.”

The biologist said the soft, porous felt on the bottom of some waders and wading shoes can easily absorb and transport a variety of invasive species from water to water.

Recently found in Arkansas and some other states, Van Patten said the algae is native to some northern parts of North America and Europe, where it’s kept in-check by several natural factors.

Further south, “It’s like a kid in a candy store, it just goes crazy,” he said.

The algae can’t survive in warm water environments, like Kansas streams and reservoirs. Van Patten said felt waders and wading shoes are still allowed in warm water fisheries, like major reservoirs and streams known for smallmouth bass and similar species in Missouri.

Once in an ecosystem, Van Patten said the algae grows into thick mats. That quickly leads to some major changes in stream dynamics as trout food and habitat get covered and fish populations quickly suffer.

Parks should remain open “We’re not going to have to close the parks,” Robin Jennison said about reports that Friday’s legislative sparring might leave Kansas state parks without enough budget to operate this summer.

Jennison, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary said he’s confident the legislature will reach agreement and the agency will be fine financially, even though $1.2 million in supplemental funding from Gov. Brownback was reduced to $800,000 by the legislature. The extra money was awarded because of low park attendance and income during the horrid summer weather last year.

Money transferred from the park’s road budget has been used to help make-up the short-fall, said Jennison, who believes it, can be replaced for road maintenance by July 1. He credited warm weather for making state park attendance and income unusually high so far this year.