by Lisa Wallace, Executive Director

The question, “Are you sure it will work?” is not about the work, it’s about the sure.

We were faced with this question in sorting out how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in our Truckee-area lakes and streams. Aquatic invasive species such as New Zealand mudsnails, Asian clams, Eurasian watermilfoil, hydrilla, and curlyleaf degrade aquatic ecosystems, inhibit recreation, damage infrastructure, and depreciate property values.

Photo: Zebra mussels are an example of an aquatic invasive species. Credit: TRCD.While many of these AIS are already here, the populations are small and we’re not seeing dire impacts. We want to prevent new infestations. Watercraft inspections are strong preventative measures.

When someone asks, “Are you sure it will work? Do you have any case studies and examples about how other lakes in these same circumstances did this and got 100% prevention?” it’s pretty clear that they want reassurance and a promise of certainty.

But the only way to get certainty on preventing the spread of AIS is to entirely shut down access to our lakes.

We can radically reduce the probability of the further spread of AIS with mandatory boat inspections. So Erin Casey has been working with many partners get the policies in place for boat inspections.

She has collaborated, convened, and coordinated. We’ve put energy, experience and expertise to bringing diverse interests together to solve this complex problem. With our partners, we’re finding ways to protect the resiliency of our lakes while supporting local recreation. We respect all viewpoints and moved forward to get the work done.

There are no guarantees. But so much that is good comes from leaping. We appreciate the Town of Truckee, Sierra County, U.S. Forest Service, and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District being willing to act without 100% certainty.

Thank you to the donors of the Truckee River Watershed Council for support our policy work on Prevention of Aquatic Invasive Species.