A re-occurring theme in my work this last month has been aquatic invasive species: how to mitigate their spread, control their presence, and potentially eradicate them all together. Water is one of my favorite issues to talk about, specifically water management. Much of my work in the past has surrounded water management and the different ways we work to address climate change and water shortages. Aquatic invasive species, however, are a different story.
Combatting aquatic invasive species is an uphill battle. It is a challenge that comes with little reward: the ultimate goal is simply to keep those waters that have yet to be infested clean and to clear out those that already host non-native species. The most you can do, at least until eradication is a viable option, is keep populations from growing out of control. It’s difficult to get people involved in the prevention of their spread, especially residents who don’t have a vested stake in specific water bodies, infested or not. When the payoff is so minimal (read: if we’re successful in mitigating spread, nothing changes in terms of water use) many don’t care enough to engage in prevention.
That said, there are plenty of prevention plans currently being implemented, many of which have been successful. We are making great strides in taking care that a majority of our waters stay free and clean of invasives, thanks to the work of deeply invested organizations and individuals. Working in the field of conservation at large is much like the battle against aquatic invasive species: it can sometimes be difficult to remain positive amidst such great challenges such as keeping our water clean and maintaining wildlife habitat in a culture that values unsustainable development. I am so grateful to work in a field full of people who care so deeply about our environment and its future, as well as the future of each one of its inhabitants. Keeping a positive outlook, as well as understanding that each small effort matters, is key to working in this field and instigating tangible change in the way we use and think of our resources. No matter the individual challenge, it is equally important to keep the big picture in mind.