Idaho Rep. Anderson Is Honored for His Environmental Stewardship

Published December 1, 2006

Idaho state Rep. Eric Anderson (R-Priest Lake) has been awarded the Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s “Director’s Cup Award” for his successful efforts to protect the state’s waterways from invasive Eurasian milfoil. He received the award on September 28.

Currently serving his first term in the Idaho House of Representatives, Anderson was elected in 2004. This year, he convinced his colleagues to enact a comprehensive program to fight the invasive Eurasian milfoil. The bill was signed into law in April 2006.

The program, the first of its kind in the nation, creates central resources and makes funds available for local governments to tackle the more than 4,000 surface acres of milfoil identified throughout the state.

Weed Highly Invasive

Eurasian milfoil takes root in the bottom of lakes and ponds and sends long, entangling tendrils to the surface. The aggressive, invasive weed quickly forms very dense, thick mats of vegetation at or just below the water’s surface.

The weeds interfere with water-based recreation such as fishing, boating, water skiing, and swimming, and they can create a stench that makes walking along shorelines next to impossible. Swimmers unaware of the danger of submerged milfoil have been known to become entangled and drown in the weeds.

The weeds cause other environmental problems. The dense mats of milfoil increase the pH of the water and reduce the amount of oxygen available for fish and other aquatic life. In addition to asphyxiating fish and other water life, milfoil creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Aquatic Herbicides Key

Aquatic herbicides such as Sonar and 2,4-D have been increasingly used by governments to eradicate milfoil efficiently and inexpensively. The herbicides have proven effective at eliminating targeted weeds while being safe for native species and aquatic wildlife.

Alternative approaches, such as mechanical harvesting and hiring scuba divers to pull weeds, have had only limited success in addressing milfoil infestations.

“Representative Anderson understood the problem and worked tirelessly to explain the issue to other lawmakers,” Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Pat Takasugi said in an October 6 news release. “Without his work, this invasive species would be getting the upper hand. Idahoans owe a debt of gratitude to Representative Anderson for protecting Idaho’s most prized resource, our water.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

For more information …

Eurasian Watermilfoil in Idaho,