Budget problems could impact fight against invasive species

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (WTNH) — Invasive species are a big problem in Connecticut. There are programs that aim to combat and even prevent the spread of invasive species, but budget cuts could mean they could face cuts.

Carmen Garcia has been fishing in the Rocky Hill area for decades, but she says the fishing isn’t as good as it once was.

“It was nice because you’d come back with some fish, like real fish,” she said. “Now it’s like you don’t even see a little tiny baby fish.”

She says invasive species have something to do with it. That’s something the state has been dealing with as well. However, possible budget cuts at the federal and state levels are making the fight against invasive species an uphill battle

“Invasive species efforts, particularly those targeted at prevention, should be looked at as an investment,” said Bill Hyatt, bureau chief of the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Bureau of Natural Resources.

When an invasive species is established, it grows out of control, harming native species. Hydrilla, an aquatic plant, is an example. It can damage boats. It is now found in the Connecticut River.

“It’s no fun to swim through a dense mat of weeds. [You] certainly aren’t going to be waterskiing through them,” Hyatt said.

Of course, invasive species don’t just live in the water. They also cause a lot of problems on land.

“It can reduce property values of houses and properties on lakeshores,” said Hyatt.

The greater the budget cuts, the more programs meant to stop invasive species could also be cut. That’s something Garcia doesn’t want to see.

“There’s a huge impact and I feel they should definitely work on that,” Garcia said. “There shouldn’t be a cutback on that.”

Experts say the best way to deal with invasive species is to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place; however, they say budget cuts could impact those efforts too.

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