NALMS President Speaks Out on Invasive Species

This is the first of a series of Guest Articles by Dick Osgood, President of the North American Lake Management Society (

During my tenure as NALMS President, I hope to advance an agenda that focuses on timely and critical lake management issues. I have identified several, and I will take some time in this column to discuss these topics. This month’s topic is – Aquatic Invasive Species.

Aquatic invasive species, or AIS, are changing the game. AIS exploit our increased mobility as well as ecological frailties. AIS are aggressive, impressive (if you are impressed by that sort of thing) and unrelenting in their march to infest more and more lakes. Our approach must be similarly single-minded and focused if we are to slow the spread and protect and manage our lakes.

The problem concerning AIS is so large that some are saying there is only so much we can do – let’s just make the best of the situation.

The problem is large, but I do not share this attitude that coping and fate should be our guiding principles. I believe NALMS and our members must be agents of positive and proactive change. Change and action are needed in several areas:

  • Laws and policies must be strengthened
  • Programs must be coordinated at multiple levels
  • We must be willing to accept some inconvenience
  • We must re-consider access policies to provide inspections and cleaning prior to entering lakes

I am encouraged on several fronts. The Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers campaign has successfully raised awareness and voluntary actions to prevent the spread of AIS. New tools are being developed, such as selective herbicides, to control nasty AIS while minimizing collateral damage. New surveillance methods are now in use. And some states are taking the courageous, but necessary steps of border checks and quarantining lakes to prevent the spread of new infestations. See the Fall 2007 issue of LakeLine for more details.

However, we are a long way from any sort of effective, comprehensive approach. Let us all be agents of change to protect our lakes.

So what can NALMS and NALMS members do?

1. We must clearly communicate that AIS cause serious, often irreparable damage to lakes.

2. We must encourage good planning. This means providing a comprehensive approach that includes:

  • Education and awareness
  • Regulation and enforcement
  • Prevention and intervention
  • Early detection and rapid response
  • Management and control
  • Adapting and coping

Too often we stop at education and awareness because that is easy; but it is also passive. Enacting meaningful regulations and executing enforcement are required, not to be punitive, but to change behavior. Quarantines, inspections and mandatory washings are active prevention steps that are also needed if we are to slow the spread of AIS. Early detection and rapid response is an important element in a comprehensive approach, but make sense only if there is monitoring. Too often monitoring is lacking, so rapid response becomes more of a slogan than a real management option. Volunteer monitoring should be used in more situations. Management and control, when it is an option, must be aggressive. NALMS has adopted a position statement (see NALMS we site) that offers guidance here. Adapting and coping, may sound defeatist, but needs to be included here to emphasize the severity, reality and consequences of the AIS threat. Adapting and coping will be the only option if any of the earlier strategies fail or fail to be implemented.

3. We must be strong advocates of laws and policies.

4. We should articulate needed research in areas of AIS prevention and control.

Source: Dick Osgood, President, North American Lake Management Society, December 2007 NALMS eNewsletter. Used by permission

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