Great Lakes

Letter to House Natural Resources Subcommittee regarding Invasive Species

Today, Vice President of Audubon Great Lakes, Rebeccah Sanders, sent the following letter to members of a House Natural Resources Subcommittee urging they take action to combat aquatic invasive species, like quagga and zebra mussels, which have been responsible for the death of over 100,000 birds on the Great Lakes since 1999.

 
May 16, 2018
 
Honorable Doug Lamborn
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
 
Jared Huffman
Ranking Member, Committee on Natural Resources
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
 
Re: House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans Oversight Hearing, “Federal Impediments to Commerce and Innovative Injurious Species Management"
 
Dear Chairman Lamborn and Ranking Member Huffman:
 
The National Audubon Society has 1.2 million members across the country including 58 chapters and 61,000 members within the Great Lakes Basin. On behalf of our supporters, we are writing to urge you to take action to address the very serious and costly issue of aquatic invasive species. The Great Lakes is our country’s main source of fresh surface water and critical habitat for over 300 species of migratory birds.  Aquatic invasive species, in particular zebra and quagga mussels, cost taxpayers billions of dollars every year and kill thousands of migratory water birds and other wildlife by disrupting the delicate ecosystem of our Great Lakes.
 
Congress is aware that aquatic invasive species cause $9 billion in damages each year to the infrastructure of our region’s water supplies, industry, and energy generation systems. [1] These species have devastated commercial and recreational fisheries and caused irreversible environmental harm to coastal and inland waters, including the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, Gulf of Mexico, and the Columbia River. This is not sustainable for taxpayers, or for our natural resources.
 
Invaders such as the zebra mussel—which alone costs $6.4 billion (2010$) a year—have wreaked havoc in the Great Lakes. Beyond disrupting water intake infrastructure for the 30+ million people in the Great Lakes, their presence helps to fuel algae growth that can be toxic. In 2014, the City of Toledo shut down the water supply for 400,000 residents because it was not safe to drink and cost millions in emergency response costs. These impacts are felt across the Great Lakes region. Aquatic invasive species collapse fisheries and disrupt local economies dependent upon recreation like hunting, boating and fishing, which generate more than $52 billion annually for our region.
 
The negative impact of these invasive species is not limited to the Great Lakes. Once in the U.S., these species continue to move; it took only 10 years for the zebra mussel to spread into the Mississippi, Tennessee, Hudson, and Ohio River basins and since then it has moved into California, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah.
 
Now is the time to push for more robust federal policy that address aquatic invasive species. Thank you for your time and attention to this serious and costly problem, Audubon looks forward to working with you to find effective solutions.
 
Sincerely,
Rebeccah Sanders
Vice President, Audubon Great Lakes & Upper Mississippi Flyway
Senior Advisor to the Chief Conservation Officer
 
Cc:

Rob Wittman
Virginia, 1st District

Tom McClintock
California, 4th District

Paul Gosar
Arizona, 4th District

Doug LaMalfa
California, 10th District

Jeff Denham
California, 10th District

Garret Graves
Louisiana, 6th District

Jody Hice
Georgia, 10th District

Daniel Webster
Vice Chairman
Florida, 11th District

Mike Johnson
Louisiana, 4th District

Greg Gianforte
Montana, At-large

Rob Bishop
Utah, 1st District
Ex officio

Grace Napolitano
California, 32nd District

Jim Costa
California, 16th District

Don Beyer
Virgina, 8th District

Nanette Barragán
California, 44th District

Madeleine Bordallo
Guam, At-large

Gregorio Sablan
Northern Marina Islands, At-large

Jimmy Gomez
California, 34th District

Raúl Grijalva
Arizona, 3rd District
Ex officio

[1] Pimentel, D., R. Zuniga, and D. Morrison. 2005. Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the United States. Ecological Economics. 52: 273-288.

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