waskington state lake images
WATERLINE - March, 2021

Vigilant stewardship: reauthorize the Washington Invasive Species Council

by Matthew Colston, Environmental Health Specialist (Surface Water Quality Program), Island County Public Health

Invasive species program volunteers remove spartina from Whidbey Island’s Freeland Park, October 2020.

In 2020, we saw that local and state governments bore the brunt of COVID-19 response efforts. As that battle raged on, though, invasive species also entered the state and the work of finding and eradicating them continued. The Washington Invasive Species Council (WISC) provided a swift response to the emergence of Asian giant hornets in our state, while still monitoring the already long list of invasive species they regulate. WISC also helps support the city and county agencies that are the most effective bulwarks against the introduction of invasives. Whether marine, terrestrial, or aerial, invasive species are a significant threat to our state’s land and water; WISC has proven to be an effective steward of our essential resources.

State Senator Jim Honeyford has sponsored Senate Bill 5063 2021-22, which would authorize the WISC until 2032. The Washington State Lake Protection Association heartily endorses this bill and supports our colleagues at WISC.

It is essential that WISC be reauthorized for another 10 years. The WISC’s work in riparian areas and lakes has been a pillar of lake protection. Without them, the conservation of Washington’s lakes will take a major blow. The WISC not only protects resources directly but provides citizens with critical services to help them identify and remove invasive species. The work they do is vital not only to lake management but to all forms of natural resource management, and to many sectors of the economy including agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture.

Legislators may be tempted to trim the budget at the cost of natural resource programs. The WISC and programs like it provide active and vigilant stewardship to ensure that, even during a crisis like the pandemic, natural resources across the state are preserved and protected.

To voice your support for reauthorizing the WISC, check whether your senators are on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, where the bill now sits, and contact them sharing your support for the Council’s critical work. The legislative session ends April 25; to track the progress of the bill and to comment in favor of reauthorization, click on Senate Bill 5063 2021-22 or call your legislator through the Washington State Legislature’s switchboard: 1-800-562-6000.