(Updated September 2012)
Invasive non-indigenous plant species threaten to destroy America's biological heritage and cause serious economic loss by polluting natural areas and agricultural systems. Biological pollution seriously impacts agricultural production and natural ecosystems causing economic and ecological losses. It has been estimated that the annual economic losses caused by these invasions is more than $20 billion.
Invasive, non-indigenous plants are assaulting America's wildlands, recreation areas, forest and pasture lands, replacing native vegetation, reducing the productivity and grazing land for livestock, degrading wildlife habitat, and clogging waterways. This invasion of harmful, non-indigenous plants is not like other resource management problems. It changes the very structure and function of critical ecosystems. In essence, these noxious weeds cause a blight at the ecosystem level and interfere with ecosystem management. Delays in controlling existing populations and preventing new invasive, non-indigenous plant species will only increase costs over time to America's agricultural industry and natural resource managers.
NASDA believes it is appropriate and vital that the federal government assert primary jurisdiction and assume a more dynamic leadership role in the interdiction and eradication of destructive invasive species. It is also critical that the federal agencies work in partnership with state and local governments and non-government organizations in developing policies and procedures. Building greater capacity of state and local governments for effectively dealing with destructive invasives should be a paramount goal of this effort.
NASDA also believes that caution is warranted in the development of the Invasive Species Management Plan. It must clearly differentiate useful and beneficial “alien species” from destructive, invasive “alien species”. NASDA recommends that the Council and the Advisory Committee avoid developing a “list” in the Plan that would combine the two categories of exotics. In fact, we see no need to develop such a list at all. The Plan should generally reference invasive or noxious lists developed by local councils or committees which have utilized input from a broad constituency and which have followed public participation policy requirements. The Plan should lay out a framework of federal action that focuses on prevention of accidental or intentional introduction of harmful invasives to the United States and its territories. It should also establish a foundation for a national monitoring and informational network to provide state and local government with early warning about new potentially destructive species.
Invasive Species are a major problem in all states. The species vary greatly from region to region but they are having major impacts on the health of our lands. The problem exists on private lands and public lands as well. In most western states due to large acres of federal lands, the impacts are often outside the authority of state agencies. State and local government should be more involved in the efforts of reducing the species that are doing so much damage to our landscapes. The problems are often regional in nature and thus include private, state and federal lands. We support a program of enhanced invasive species control and elimination projects that uses the knowledge of the state departments of agriculture and local government, especially conservation districts to manage and lead such activities. We believe a program must fund states in a significant manner, with funding levels taking into account all lands within a state, including federal lands. We believe states have the ability to deliver more money onto the ground and less to administration. This is an extension of the efforts of state agriculture departments efforts in invasive species control. Departments of agriculture should include other state and federal natural resources related agencies within the state in the process.