Invasive Species Have Some States Seeking Increased Federal Partnership

A nutria.

A nutria.

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

More than 5,000 invasive species—from plants like cheatgrass to rodents like nutria—inhabit the U.S. causing about $120 billion in economic damage annually.

WASHINGTON — State wildlife officials this week called for increased partnership between federal agencies and state and local governments to better prevent, control and eradicate invasive species.

Invasive species are not native to the U.S., and when they infiltrate an ecosystem it can cause an array of problems, disturbing both the environment and local economies.

More than 5,000 invasive species now inhabit the U.S. causing about $120 billion in economic damage annually, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But the Invasive Species Advisory Committee, which provides recommendations to the U.S. Department of the Interior, recently concluded that federal agencies lack the authority to effectively combat that impact.

“As daunting as the task of managing invasive species can be, successful management is realistic and achievable through partnerships involving federal, state and county agencies; non-government organizations; land-grant universities; and, critically important, the private landowner,” said Slade Franklin, weed and pest state coordinator with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

Speaking before the Senate’s environment committee Wednesday, Franklin detailed Wyoming’s struggles controlling cheatgrass, a weed that consumes large amounts of water, degrades soil, displaces vegetation, and fuels catastrophic wildfires. The state’s 50-year fire cycle has been reduced to three years with the spread of cheatgrass, he said.

In the last 20 years, 74 percent of Department of Interior acres that experienced wildfires were on rangelands, and 80 percent of those 12 million rangeland acres had been invaded by cheatgrass, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Cheatgrass is a winter annual that dies and fuels the fire cycle just as Wyoming’s other perennials—which feed the endangered greater sage-grouse among other species—are greening.

The National Interagency Fire Center reported that 2017 wildfire firefighting costs reached $2.9 billion across 10 million acres—$290 per acre. Farmers can treat cheatgrass for a mere $60 an acre, Franklin said, and they’re “passionate and financially motivated.”

Other efforts to tackle invasive species have recently gotten some congressional assistance. When Congress reauthorized the Water Resource Development Act in October, lawmakers included provisions targeting invasive species like Asian carp in the Great Lakes.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican and the committee’s chairman, also put forth the WILD Act with ranking member Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, which has passed the Senate and contains additional measures for combating invasive species. The bill would require federal agencies working on invasive species projects to coordinate and offer grants to stakeholders for innovative controls like smart fish passage systems and advance DNA detection of invasives.

Joe Rogerson, program manager for wildlife species conservation and research at the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, said more federal financial support is needed.

“States currently don’t have sufficient resources to tackle all of the threats outlined within their wildlife action plans, so we are unable to address threats facing fish and wildlife populations from invasive species,” he said.

One of the best examples of a federally supported eradication effort was the handling of nutria, a semi-aquatic rodent with large orange teeth native to South America, in the Chesapeake Bay region in the early 2000s, Rogerson said. A prolific breeder and voracious eater of grasses, nutria threatened to destroy 35 thousand acres of wetlands within 50 years—resulting in $35 million in economic losses due to the damage to tidal fish and shellfish nurseries.

Because of “adequate funding and staff resources,” all known populations of nutria are gone and not a single one has been discovered in the region in several years, Rogerson said.

Not all state officials at the hearing asked for increased federal funding and regulations. Terry Steinwand, director of the North Dakota Fish and Game Department, said his agency was seeking more funding from the state legislature through higher fishing license fees because that’s a “primarily state role.”

If his agency has any challenge it’s that of lacking the manpower for constant monitoring of high-value, high-risk areas with certain invasive species, he said, but federal collaboration has never been an issue.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, said that the reason his state might require less federal support is because there are fewer federal lands there than in Wyoming, which is more than 40 percent federal land.

Franklin said Wyoming would like to see parts of the National Environmental Policy Act improved to remove categorical exclusions for new invasive populations and treatments. Approval processes for new herbicides and other management tools also vary in length between federal agencies, which can slow control efforts.

“Some [agencies] can do that fairly quickly,” Franklin said. “Some take several years and millions of dollars to do the risk assessment.”

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Route Fifty and based in Washington, D.C.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
A large urban park creates a "connected" visitor experience with SMART.NODEs™
Sydney NSW, Australia
Community feedback increases 13x in Lancaster, PA with both offline and online engagement methods
Lancaster, PA, USA
Erie County, PA offers all local restaurants free digital tools to plan for safe COVID reopening
Erie County, PA, USA

NEXT STORY: Economic Boom Hasn't Led to Economic Prosperity For All

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.