Water Hero: Michelle Nault

“It is important to keep a holistic approach in mind when actively managing aquatic invasive species.”
Lake Michigan and Lake Superior
Green Bay, WI

How do you work to protect Wisconsin’s waters?
I am currently a water resources management specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). I am responsible for conducting early detection aquatic invasive species (AIS) monitoring and coordinating response activities on lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands within the northern Lake Michigan basin. I have previously worked as a research scientist for the Science Services bureau of the WDNR, conducting research on aquatic plant ecology and invasive species management, specifically Eurasian watermilfoil, throughout the state.

What are your biggest concerns right now?
Much of my career has been focused on aquatic invasive species (AIS) ecology and management. However, it is important to note that AIS are only one of the many threats facing Wisconsin’s water resources, and a holistic approach to protecting and restoring our aquatic ecosystems is necessary when trying to address specific AIS concerns.

What keeps you strong and inspired in the face of challenges?
What keeps me motivated in my line of work is the opportunist to continuously expand our collective knowledge of the science behind aquatic invasive species ecology and management. We have learned an incredible amount about invasive species over the past decade of data collection and analysis. We’re using this information to help educate the public, guide future management and prevention strategies, as well as revise and create water resources policy and legislation. We are moving away from a rhetoric that relies on anecdotal accounts of AIS impacts and management efficacy towards one that relies on quantitative scientific data collection (and rigorous statistical analysis) to better understand how to adapt to existing and emerging AIS issues.

What’s your favorite “water spot” in Wisconsin?
I have conducted aquatic invasive species (AIS) and aquatic plant surveys on over 300 lakes and rivers across Wisconsin. It’s very difficult to pick a favorite, as every waterbody is very unique in its own way.

More information:

Learn about other Water Heroes in Wisconsin:
River Alliance Water Heroes – 2018