Department Of Interior

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Contact:Hugh Vickery
For Immediate Release:July 24, 2003

Science Advisor Tate Affirms Department's Support for
Invasive Species Control

Washington-Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior Jim Tate told Congress today the administration is taking a number of steps in partnership with state and local governments to control the spread of salt cedar, Russian olive and other invasive plants that cause economic harm to communities, soak up valuable water, and increase fire hazards in much of the West.
"Because of our role in the management of Western lands, we recognize the need for on-the-ground management of invasive species," Tate told the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health at a hearing Thursday.
Tate outlined the problems caused by invasive plants. For example, dense tamarisk stands consume large amounts of water. Estimates of the value of water lost - for irrigation and municipal uses, flood control, and hydropower production - run between $133 million and $265 million, he said. Irrigation losses alone are as much as $120 million annually.
Various Interior Department agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service are working with states and other partners to control these species.
"Our initiative recognizes that nature knows no jurisdictional boundaries and that, through partnerships, the Department's land managers can work with landowners and other citizen stewards to tackle invasive species, reduce erosion along stream banks, or enhance habitat for threatened and endangered species," Tate told the subcommittee.
For example, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service have formed "strike teams" that remove dense vegetation in the Southwest. "Partners for Fish and Wildlife", a program under the Fish and Wildlife Service, provides funding and technical help to landowners to combat invasive species and improve wildlife habitat.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management's "Partners Against Weeds Strategy Plan" funds cooperative efforts with landowners to control invasive species. It also funds cooperative outreach and education programs with schools and local and county governments. In one important project, the BLM plans to work with several groups, including Clark County and the communities of Bunkerville and Mesquite in southern Nevada to remove tamarisk along portions of the Virgin River floodplain.
"The Department is prepared and committed to identifying, assessing, and acting to curb the economic and ecological impacts" of invasive species, Tate said.


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