More waiting in store
Around the country, efforts have increased to prevent non-native species from encroaching into America’s waterways. The most common way these plants and animals are spread, of course, is in boats. These critters attach themselves to hulls and tanks, jumping ship when you’ve put in at your newest destination. The infamous zebra mussel in the Great Lakes was spread this way, as was the hated milfoil that’s fouled props in my beloved Lake Washington for decades. Federal legislation passed last year that restricted tank discharges for commercial vehicles, and was worded so imprecisely that recreational boaters were included in the environmental dragnet. Politicians from boating states successfully lobbied to get the bill changed so that it only applied to commercial ships.
Ironically, many states are now passing laws that require inspections of these recreational boats before they are allowed to be put in local waters. States like Colorado are copying the long-standing inspection requirements of still-pristine bodies of water like Lake Tahoe. Enforcement will certainly be difficult, and cost a lot of money, but the ecological harm these non-native species can do is stratospheric. Any resident of the Great Lakes region can attest to this, with zebra mussel proliferation and declining native fish stocks due to introduced sport fish like Atlantic Salmon having major impacts there.