OLYMPIA – The public is invited to comment on a draft plan for combating invasive species, the Washington Invasive Species Council announced today.
“Washington is experiencing an alarming increase in the number of invasive plants, animals and organisms,” said Bridget Moran, council chair. “Our forests, our waterways, our farm and range lands and our recreation areas are threatened as these invaders move to areas where they can reproduce and spread uncontrollably.”
The Washington Invasive Species Council’s draft strategic plan will serve as a map for coordinating public and private efforts to prevent and control invasive species. The plan contains strategies and action steps that address access to invasive species information, early detection and rapid response, regulation and restoration of key areas. The public is encouraged to submit comments until April 3.
“The environmental and economic costs of invasive species are high,” Moran said. Consider:
- Between 1998 and 2007, federal and state agencies spent more than $14 million to eradicate Spartina, an aggressive weed that transforms mudflats into meadows, destroying important habitat and increasing the threat of flooding.
- In 1997, Washington hop growers removed more than 3,000 acres of hops suspected of being exposed to hop powdery mildew, resulting in an estimated loss of $9.5 million.
- Washington’s timber industry is also vulnerable to invaders. Some 16 million Washington trees of varying sizes and financial values were killed by insects and diseases between 2003 and 2006.
“In addition to direct dollars spent, invasive species can increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires and mudslides; alter the hydrology of rivers; reduce property values; increase disease epidemics in plants, animals and humans; and cause the loss of jobs.
“The strategic plan was developed through a collaborative process with federal, state and local agencies, businesses, educators, tribes and others. It is the first step towards a coordinated approach to managing the state’s invasive species problem,” Moran said. “The council is seeking public review of the plan to ensure all perspectives have been heard and considered.”
To view and comment on the strategic plan, visit the Washington Invasive Species Council Web site at http://www.invasivespeices.wa.gov.