WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today convened the National Invasive Species Council (NISC) at which he oversaw the adoption of the new 2008-2012 National Invasive Species Management Plan developed collaboratively by 13 federal departments and agencies and their partners.
Joined by Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, Commerce Undersecretary/ NOAA Administrator Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., USN (Ret.) and other leading officials from the departments and agencies that make up the council, Secretary Kempthorne stressed the importance of the plan.
“The plan we adopt today will be the federal government’s primary ‘road map’ for federal efforts to prevent and control invasive species over the next five years,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “Its significance cannot be overstated because invasive species cause great damage to the nation’s environment, economy and human health—harming fisheries, forests, croplands and natural areas; impairing recreation; and endangering public health through threats like West Nile virus.”
Federal expenditures on invasive species are estimated to exceed $1.3 billion annually. The 2008-2012 Plan replaces the 2001 plan and will focus federal efforts to prevent and control invasive species, which are defined as species that are nonnative or alien to a nation or region and that cause or are likely to cause harm to the economy, environment or human/animal health. The plan is the culmination of an extensive planning process that involved the federal departments and agencies, expert review, and public comment. It can be found on http://www.doi.gov/news/08_News_Releases/2008-2012NationalInvasiveSpeciesManagementPlan.pdf. The plan builds on successes to date.
“By using cooperative and well coordinated approaches, NISC and our partners are making real progress,” Secretary Kempthorne noted. For example, NISC members’ departments have slowed the spread of zebra and quagga mussels into western waters and the Asian Longhorned Beetle has been eradicated from Illinois.”
Invasive species can be plants, animals or pathogens. Although only a small proportion of nonnative species become invasive, even a single invasive species can be very harmful. For example, recent data show that invasive zebra mussels cause multi-million-dollar losses in the Great Lakes and elsewhere. An invasive insect, the emerald ash borer, has killed more than 30 million ash trees in the United States. Since 1999, West Nile virus, an invasive pathogen transmitted by mosquitoes, has caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people in the nation. More than 40 percent of threatened and endangered species were listed primarily because of the impacts of invasive species.
The Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture and Commerce co-chair NISC; other members include the Secretaries of Defense, State, Homeland Security, Treasury, Transportation, and Health and Human Services, the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as the Administrators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and a representative of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In addition to Secretaries Kempthorne and Shafer, participants in today’s NISC meeting included: Chuck Lambert, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs; Paul Hoffman, Department of the Interior (DOI) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Capital, Performance, and Partnerships; Tim Keeney, Department of Commerce (DOC) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere; James V. Scanlon, Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Science and Data Policy; James S. Hester Agency Environmental Coordinator and Director of the Office of Natural Resources, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); George Gray Assistant Administrator for Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Dan Reifsnyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Sustainable Development, Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, Department of State (DOS); Joel Szabat Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, Department of Transportation (DOT); and Captain Stanton Cope Executive Director of the Armed Forces Pest Management Board.
At the meeting Secretary Kempthorne also announced the names of the new members of the nonfederal Invasive Species Advisory Council, available at www.doi.gov/news.
More on the Efforts of the National Invasive Species Council:
“Since its formation in1999 by Executive Order 13112, NISC and our partners have developed much greater knowledge and public awareness of invasive species. NISC agencies have developed new tools and methods to prevent and control them,” said Lori Williams, Executive Director of NISC. Among the accomplishments and ongoing activities of the council are:
- The 100th Meridian Initiative is a multi-agency effort led by DOI that has slowed the spread of zebra and quagga mussels into western waters.
- The NISC performance-based crosscut budget contains an inter-agency program led by DOI, USDA and the Department of Defense (DOD) to stop the spread of brown treesnakes from Guam to other islands.
- DOI, DOC, other partners, and community-based environmental organizations have successfully detected and eradicated the invasive seaweed, Caulerpa taxifolia from two locations in California.
- Federal agencies (i.e. DOI) and the state of Florida are eradicating Gambian pouched-rat, a possible vector for the monkeypox virus, from the Florida Keys.
- On April 17, 2008, the Asian Longhorned Beetle, which was first detected in 1998, was declared eradicated from Illinois. Local officials and USDA led the containment and eradication efforts that kept this destructive forest pest from spreading across the Midwest.
- NISC cataloged major pathways of invasive species introduction (i.e. solid wood packing material and ballast water) to focus invasive species prevention efforts.
- In 2002, USDA adopted an international standard for the treatment of wood packaging material, while NISC agencies (i.e. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DOC and DOI) worked to address invasive species spread by ballast water.
- DOI and USDA partnerships with conservation organizations are working with Mexico to eradicate invasive predators, such as rats, from isolated sea bird nesting islands.
- Best Management Practices and Codes of Conduct for gardeners and landscapers are helping to avoid the spread of invasive plants.
- The Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers and Habitattitude™ campaigns are helping to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species by boat and pet owners.
- The North American Plant Protection Organization, NISC, DOS, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), USAID, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and DOC worked with a team of Canadian, Mexican and U.S. plant protection specialists and stakeholders in the development of two international standards for invasive species that harm plants.
- The National Park Service has established 17 Exotic Plant Management Teams and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established 5 Invasive Species Strike Teams to control invasive plants in our national parks and refuges.
- NISC members’ agencies (i.e., NASA, DOC, DOI, USDA, DOS, USAID, and Economic Research Service) are developing advanced tools for the mapping and monitoring invasive species and determining their economic impacts.
- NISC Members (DOT, DOD, DOI, DOS, HHS, DHS, USDA and EPA) are overseeing a research project being implemented by USDA for removing invasive insects from aircraft flights by non-chemical means in order to prevent the international movement of mosquitoes that might be vectors of disease. Such an approach would reduce public health risks without exposing passengers and crew to insecticides.