To the untrained eye, it looked like an ordinary stand of cattails growing alongside a pond in a managed wetlands. Ordinary, except for several that lie toppled in the mud. Which is why Greg Gerstenberg chose this particular spot to park his Ford Expedition and amble over for a closer look.
What the … ? The Department of Fish and Wildlife sent me [Michael Fitzgerald] a letter asking my written permission to hunt for nutria around my Woodland Drive house. Nutria, if you just tuned in, are a voracious South American swamp rat.
In the decades since President George H.W. Bush pledged a goal of “no net loss” of U.S. wetlands, this uniquely American mix of conservation and capitalism has been supported by every president since then, growing the market for wetlands mitigation credits from about 40 banks in the early 1990s to nearly 1,500 today. Investors include Chevron and Wall Street firms, working alongside the Audubon Society and other environmental groups. Now the market is at risk.
For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in remediation. The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent native to South America that causes concern because of its propensity to devour every bit of vegetation in sight and destabilize levees by burrowing into them. Wildlife officials are trapping the animal and trying to learn the extent of its infestation.
Agencies from San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties to NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture formed an invasive-weed task force seeking holistic, more comprehensive solutions to free the Delta from its oppressors.
“Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at least 1,000 times faster than they did before humans arrived on the scene, and the world is on the brink of a sixth great extinction, a new study says.”
From the Lake Tahoe News, in a commentary by Joanne Marchetta:
“When the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and partner agencies started inspecting Lake Tahoe watercraft in 2008, all we knew was that we needed to protect our waters from the growing threats of aquatic invasive species. We took the necessary steps, but did not know then that the watercraft inspection program would one day help protect other water bodies as well.
“A mandatory boat inspection program continues to pay dividends for Lake Tahoe, a conservation agency said, as 36 boats harboring invasive plants, mussels and snails were prevented from entering the lake in 2013.”