When the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Restoration Plan was put into effect in 2015, Atlas Environmental was hired to remove invasive fish species from Spring Lake and the upper San Marcos river. Owner and diver, Nick Menchaca and his wife, Janaye Williamson, have since removed over 8000 non-native fish helping to restore the native habitat of the San Marcos springs. Freediving with a spear gun, Nick removes tilapia and armored catfish allowing the native and endangered species to thrive. In addition to the suckermouth catfish, Nick removes other ramshorn snails, nutria, and sailfin catfish.
Nick has the enviable job of being at the river nearly every day. Besides pulling out thousands of invasive fish, Nick hauls out the hard-to-reach trash, educates visitors and local residents about his work and the HCP and has brought unprecedented attention and creativity to the real possibility of eliminating detrimental species in our unique water system. To raise awareness and participation, Nick created the bi-annual polespear tournament where the public can compete to remove the most invasive fish and then celebrate with an invasive fish taco party. The River Foundation is so pleased to recognize the innovative work of Nick and the massive impact he has had on the health and beauty of our river.