I’d like you to take a moment and visualize a scenario. We are a group of individuals and organizations whose purpose is to be stewards of nature. Together, we invest huge resources into protecting, a forest. We invest monetary, technical, and physical resources into protecting this forest. We plant trees, climate adaptable of course, we put up some signs, open some passive-use trails, and seemingly our work is done. A few years pass and suddenly the health of thousands of trees that we planted are declining and the surrounding forest is experiencing mortality. In response, we conduct a ground search and find that two forest pests and one pathogen are killing the forest we are trying to protect. Whoops, guess we didn’t have our eye on the eight-ball! In this scenario, the “eight-ball” is a sphere of invasive forest pests and pathogens that we didn’t see coming and did not or could not react to quickly enough. Situations like these can happen just as easily in aquatic ecosystems and may even have larger impacts.
So what’s my point? Invasive species management is necessary for conservation, and we MUST keep our eyes on the eight-ball. Invasive species are sneaky, deceptive things that can undo much of our hard work and they can do it in the blink of an eye. Protecting our lands and waters means we must be highly aware of the harm invasive species can cause and be ready and willing to incorporate invasive species prevention, early detection, and rapid response into our long-term management. Cheers to all who recognize this!