OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee has declared the week of Feb. 25th as Invasive Species Awareness Week in Washington State, noting that everyone has a role to play in stopping more than $137 billion in annual costs from crop damage, loss of fish and damage to forests.
In his proclamation, Inslee urges residents to play an active role in protecting our state’s resources by doing simple things such as cleaning hiking boots and equipment before enjoying the outdoors, taking unwanted pets to the proper places instead of releasing them into the wild and cleaning boats and gear after leaving the water.
“Invasive species threaten the survival of native plants and animals, damage our land and water and inhibit management of natural resources,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “We must do what we can to remove these threats to biodiversity through prevention and education.”
“Invasive species pose a major threat not only to Washington agriculture, but also to our state and national parks, and even our neighborhoods,” said Derek Sandison, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “With the support of local community members, we have been safeguarding Washington from invasive species for decades. A keen eye by residents has helped keep known invasive species from gaining a foothold and even alerted us to new invasive species that make their way to our state.”
Invasive species can often damage the places we value the most. For example, some infestations can close lakes and rivers to boaters. Other infestations can kill the trees in our neighborhood forest.
“People spend an estimated $21.6 billion in Washington on outdoor recreation, supporting about 199,000 jobs,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which supports the Invasive Species Council and grant programs for outdoor recreation. “Damage to parks and trails from invasive species puts access to those areas and the associated jobs at risk.
“We know how to stop invasive species,” she continued, “The council and its partners have developed a statewide strategy and are implementing actions now. If you or your organization are not aware of the strategy and actions, we invite you to become involved in this important work.”
Invasive species also interfere with ecosystems by changing natural processes such as fire, water availability and flooding.
“Invasive species have negative impacts on everything that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does,” said Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands. “Invasive species threaten DNR’s ability to generate revenue for trust beneficiaries, they increase the risk of wildland fire and they constitute one of the greatest threats to conservation of our native species and ecosystems.”
Invasive species also impact habitat and can compete with, or prey on, native wildlife.
“Invasive species threaten the survival of native plants and animals,” said Joe Stohr, acting director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They are a threat to almost half of native species listed as federally endangered, including salmon. Everyone who works or recreates outdoors should clean, drain and dry their gear–especially boats and trailers–after every trip.”
“Simple, coordinated actions taken by everyone in Washington will save our agriculture, natural resources, wildlife and ability to recreate,” Cottingham said. “Let’s all do our part to protect the state we love.”
Read the Governor’s proclamation.
Visit the Washington Invasive Species Awareness Week Web page.To Prevent and Stop Invasive Species We Need Your Help