California resident Neva Holladay, like many other state locals, frequents Lake Tahoe for its serene waters and beautiful ecosystem. Here, she comments on recent initiatives proposed by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District to restore the lake’s natural environment.
A frequent visitor to Lake Tahoe, Neva Holladay is concerned about the area’s natural ecosystem, which has come under threat from invasive fish species in recent years. Local environmentalist groups have proposed a solution to the problem, but it’s left many people divided.
“The Target Invasive Fish Control Program has proposed using an aggressive form of population control,” says Neva Holladay. “It certainly will help lessen the amount of invasive species such as bluegill and bass that threaten the ecosystem, but many wonder if it’s really sustainable or if it’s just a temporary fix.”
The program, proposed by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, would make efforts to eradicate some of the invasive fish in the local waters, mainly targeted at brown bullhead, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill and goldfish. These fish, especially warm water fish like bluegill, have diminished the wild trout populations and put other stresses on the surrounding ecosystem.
“Lake Tahoe’s invasive fish eat up many of the food sources of other fish, like frogs, and compete with them and other non-native fish,” says Neva Holladay. “They have had clearly negative effects on the dynamics of natural food webs and ultimately impacted the function of the lake’s natural ecosystem.”
Some residents and visitors are concerned over the methods proposed to fight back the invasive aquatic species. Control methods include stunning fish with an electric field before removing them from the water and using benthic electrode arrays to destroy fish eggs. Additionally, plans include efforts to trap or net the fish and working with anglers and other parties to remove fish. They also hope to increase education outreach programs to prevent the same problems in the future, namely warning against illegally releasing certain fish into Lake Tahoe.
“Many people wonder if these means to remove invasive fish from the lake will be enough, since current plans seem to rely on one initial sweep, and whether or not the fish will simply build their numbers right back up again,” says Neva Holladay.
The problem is also being recognized today, among other invasive aquatic threats, by Congress. Industry stakeholders have recently approached Congress members and their staff to discuss and propose new strategies for combatting aquatic invasive species across the board. The National Marine Manufacturers Association, along with the Congressional Boating Caucus, appeared in front of nearly 50 congressional staff in Washington, D.C. last week to brief on the situation and deliver a presentation titled simply “How Congress Can Help Address Aquatic Invasive Species.”
“Locals and adoring visitors just want to see Lake Tahoe thrive and want to make sure that whatever gigantic step we’ll take towards fighting off invasive fish will work the first time around for the betterment of the whole local ecosystem,” says Neva Holladay.