Last week, NMMA – in coordination with the Congressional Boating Caucus (CBC) – hosted a briefing event for nearly 50 congressional staff in Washington, D.C. to examine the role Congress can play in combatting aquatic invasive species (AIS). The event – titled “How Congress Can Help Address Aquatic Invasive Species” – featured opening remarks from Representative John Garamendi (D-CA-03).
Representative Garamendi spoke about the impact that AIS have had in his district, including to the recreational boating community. Representative Garamendi noted that stopping and reversing the spread of AIS is a national issue that Congress should address and added that robust federal investment is needed to tackle the issue.
Following the opening remarks, NMMA director of federal government relations, Clay Crabtree facilitated a dialogue about the economic and environmental damage incurred by AIS and how Congress can provide additional resources and support ongoing projects to fight against AIS. Crabtree was joined on the panel by Christy Plumer, Chief Conservation Officer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Dennis Zabaglo, Aquatic Resources Program Manager for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency; and Elizabeth Brown, Invasive Species Program Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Ms. Brown highlighted the efforts that Colorado and many of the western states have conducted by investing in personnel and decontamination stations to protect against the spread of AIS, while Mr. Zabaglo discussed the importance of public-private partnerships to provide additional resources to help prevent the introduction of new AIS into Lake Tahoe – which has a $5 billion outdoor recreation-based economy. Ms. Plumer detailed the harm that AIS have on the environment and recreational fishing and highlighted how conservation organizations and NMMA are working together to ensure federal agencies provide adequate resources to combat AIS.