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.
The members of the River Foundation also recognized Dianne Wassenich for her 35 years of service, honoring her with the Lifetime Guardian of the River award. Dianne’s list of accomplishments is long. She has taught our community the true ecological value of this beautiful river and raised the level of awareness of the many threats to its long term health. She has led SMRF through several monumental lawsuits and has represented the interests of the river at Both the local and state level, stressing the interconnectedness of population growth and spring flow. From trash to wastewater, protecting recharge zones to transportation plans, Dianne grasped the connections and helped to ensure that this river will be enjoyed by future generations.