2018 Audio - Silver

Montana was invaded in the summer of 2017 by microscopic aliens floating in the waters of Tiber Reservoir in the north central part of the state near Shelby. The tiny organisms, which emit a glowing X-shape in the light of a microscope, were infant forms of invasive zebra and quagga mussels, species that already had invaded the Great Lakes with devastating impact. The organisms soon were found in the Canyon Ferry reservoir east of Helena and downstream in the Missouri River as well. The finding triggered immediate concern about the future health of Montana’s fisheries and led Nicky Ouellet and her teammates at Montana Public Radio to mount an ambitious five-part podcast series on the destructive history of the mussels in other bodies of water, how they may have arrived in Montana, how they can be detected and controlled and what political decisions are needed to ensure a unified effort to attack the pests. Ouellet travelled to affected waters in Minnesota and Wisconsin as part of her reporting. “Nicky Ouellet stages a tour-de-force of reporting on the mussel invasion of lakes and waterways across the United States,” said judge Tina Hesman Saey, molecular biology writer for Science News. “All the while she presents science in nuanced and engaging ways.” Ouellet said “SubSurface” is Montana Public Radio’s first venture into podcasting. “We’ve been overwhelmed by our listeners’ support, as well as recognition from our peers and experts in the field,” Ouellet said