For Release:

OLYMPIA–Gov. Jay Inslee, in partnership with the Washington Invasive Species Council, has proclaimed February 26 through March 3 as Washington Invasive Species Awareness Week in solidarity with National Invasive Species Awareness Week.

“Invasive species and noxious weeds are already a big problem in Washington and species that have yet to reach our state could pose even greater challenges in the future,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “If we want to protect our economy and environment, we all need to do our part to prevent the further spread of invasive species. There are simple things we can do in our everyday lives to protect the natural resources we hold so dear.”

Whether on land or in water, some human-introduced organisms such as fish, bugs, plants, other wildlife and even diseases can damage agriculture, recreation, forests, and other resources. Invasive species are a global problem that has cost the United States more than $1.2 trillion in the past 50 years. A 2017 state study estimated that some species not yet in Washington, such as invasive freshwater mussels, would cost the state more than $100 million annually in damage and loss if they were not prevented.

“There is a lot at stake in Washington,” said Stephanie Helms, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “Invasive species threaten the survival of endangered species such as salmon and orca. Some pose a risk to agriculture, trade and food supplies, and some can change natural processes increasing wildfires and flooding and reducing water availability.”

The awareness week includes a series of webinars and events aimed at sharing information on priority invasive species, risks to the economy and environment and ways to become part of the solution. Visit the Invasive Species Awareness Week web page for more information.

“The role of the public can’t be understated,” Helms said. “We have lots of examples where the public has discovered a new problem species. Many organizations work together to detect invasive species but they can’t be everywhere. Residents playing an active role in their communities to protect the resources we value is very important.”

The Washington Invasive Species Council has a mobile app, WA Invasives, and website to help with reporting and response. Beyond awareness and reporting, below are simple actions people can take to protect public lands and natural areas from invasive species.

“Washington is a wonderful place to call home due to clean water and productive land, abundant natural resources, diverse agricultural commodities, booming domestic and international trade and ample opportunities to recreate on the land and water,” Helms said. “Invasive species threaten much of what Washington embodies and values. Please take a few minutes to learn about this important topic and integrate simple preventative actions into your daily activities. By working together, we can help prevent this shared problem.”