Department Of Interior
USDA: Julie Quick, 202-720-4623
|For Immediate Release: January 22, 2004||
DOI: Frank Quimby, 202-208-7291
Norton, Veneman Launch Cooperative Initiative to Control Invasive Tamarisk in Southwest
(DENVER) -- Interior Secretary
Gale Norton and Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced
plans to work with Southwestern states and communities on a strategic
initiative to control tamarisk, an invasive plant that has infested
millions of acres in the region, damaging wildlife habitat, complicating
water management, and causing severe ecological and economic problems.
The two cabinet officials jointly chair the National Invasive Species
Council with Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans.
The effort will formally
begin with a three-day conference, March 31 to April 2 in Albuquerque,
N.M., that will bring together federal, state and local government officials,
tribal representatives, private water and land managers, and plant and
water scientists to identify collaborative opportunities that make the
most effective use of collective resources. Rebecca Watson, Interior's
Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, will be a keynote
speaker at the conference.
"There is a need for
a strategic regional approach to tamarisk eradication and control that
organizes all levels of government, academia, and the private sector
under a coordinated, partnership-based, outcome-oriented framework,"
Norton said in announcing the initiative. "No single state or federal
agency can effectively tackle this problem alone. We all need to work
together as partners."
"Invasive plants like
the tamarisk cause both ecological and economic harm," Veneman
said. "Efforts to control them are crucial to help restore wildlife
habitat and ensure our rural communities can maintain critical water
While many land management
agencies have worked diligently to eradicate tamarisk and establish
native plant communities to prevent its reintroduction, most of these
efforts are carried out on the local level, are often constrained by
political boundaries, conflicting missions, and authorities, and lack
effective coordination with other tamarisk control projects in the Southwest.
The Albuquerque conference
will focus on problems associated with tamarisk and native habitat management;
provide a comprehensive overview of current control efforts and available
best practices; highlight critical research gaps; map the best current
understanding of the regional distribution of tamarisk; and set priorities
for control projects in the Southwest. The tamarisk initiative will
map subsequent efforts to deal strategically with this invasive across
The conference is sponsored
by the National Invasive Species Council, National Association of Counties,
Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory (both
are Department of Energy labs), WERC: A Consortium for Environmental
Education and Technology Development, and the Tamarisk Coalition, among
The National Invasive Species
Council is a Cabinet-level group that helps to coordinate and ensure
complementary, cost-efficient and effective federal activities regarding
invasive species. Invasive plants are estimated to cause more than $20
billion per year in economic damage. Invasive animals and pathogens
push the total cost to the U.S. economy to more than $100 billion each
Invasives also harm the environment and wildlife. Up to 46 percent of threatened and endangered species owe their listing in whole or in part to the uncontrolled spread of invasives, which have the potential to degrade entire plant and animal communities.
Interior agencies participating in the conference include the Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. USDA participants include the Forest Service, Agricultural Research Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, and Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. Other federal agencies involved are the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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