Currently, I am a member of Idaho’s Invasive Species Interim Legislative Working Group. We are tasked with making recommendations on how to update existing statutes designed to protect our state from environmentally damaging invasive species and noxious weeds.
You don’t have to go far to see how much damage a noxious weed like puncture vine (goat heads) has done to trails in the Ridge to River System. And while local communities work on how to deal with weeds, an even more pressing concern lies under the water.
This fall, the interim committee went to Bear Lake in Southeast Idaho to learn more about a serious threat to our beautiful lake systems – namely the incredibly destructive quagga muscle. Presentations from Bear Lake Watch, Utah Department of Resources, and local elected officials underscored the serious concerns felt by the citizens of these lake communities.
Given the significant community dependence upon Bear Lake for a mixed-economy ranging from fishing, kayaking or water skiing to miles of irrigation for agriculture, it is clear to me that their concern is valid and needs to be addressed effectively.
The working group’s challenge is to find an effective way to treat invasives at their source (i.e. in another state) while inspecting incoming watercraft to ensure that our waters, including our lakes in the north, are not contaminated. We also have the concern that if we only consider aquatic invasives, we neglect the terrestrial noxious weeds that are also impacting our environments.
The issue requires more resources to deal with emerging problems. We will be meeting again to discuss solutions this October. The next working group meeting is in Boise on October 17th if you are interested in attending.