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Groups Ask Congress for Help in Beating Back Aquatic Invaders

April 23, 2007

Washington, D.C. - Water is already scarce in New Mexico, but a number of invasive species are compounding the problem. Over 100 conservation and sporting groups are pressing Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to beat back the spread of aquatic invaders. Trout Unlimited's Greg McReynolds points to problems with a non-native water hyacinth in the lower Rio Grande.

“[The water hyacinth] just really expands quickly and covers a lot of water surface, and impedes water flow and creates a lot of problems.”

Other invasive nuisances include the Eurasian water-milfoil, which has caused problems with irrigation systems in Northern New Mexico, and a rodent called the water nutria that burrows in the banks of rivers and canals.

Corry Westbrook with the National Wildlife Federation wants Congress to pass legislation that will help actively control the spread of invasive species.

“The legislation we would like to see should include a rapid-response program, so if you find something like a snake-head fish in your pond, the states can jump in there and get rid of it before it takes hold and the infestation becomes too much.”

The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act has already been introduced in the Senate. Westbrook believes it's a good start, but a more comprehensive law is needed, and that it should include an education component.

Eric Mack/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NM