The Trump Administration has released a draft strategic plan for combating invasive species. The plan provides a coordinated approach to align programs and policies across the U.S. Department of the Interior and leverage more resources in addressing this important issue.
Invasive species are estimated to be a $120 billion problem. The species impact water supplies, impair hunting and fishing opportunities, interfere with energy production, exacerbate wildfires, damage America’s agriculture and drive native species to extinction. In Fiscal Year 2020, Interior alone is investing an estimated $143 million to manage invasive species.
“The draft plan sets out a vision for effectively managing invasive species through collaborative conservation to protect our nation’s biodiversity and economy," said Interior’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget Scott Cameron. The draft Invasive Species Strategic Plan is published in the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period. Comments may be submitted via http://www.regulations.gov/.
In accordance with the John D. Dingell, Jr., Conservation, Management and Recreation Act of 2019, and in consultation with states, tribes and other stakeholders, the plan both reflects ongoing work by Interior and its partners and leverages opportunities to respond to emerging issues driven by the priorities of governors. While many Interior bureaus have invasive species management plans, this strategic plan outlines a comprehensive, agency-wide approach that will:
- promote partnerships to bolster mutual priorities,
- raise awareness to motivate action,
- strengthen prevention practices to avoid invasive species introductions and spread,
- improve the coordination of early detection and rapid response efforts across jurisdictions,
- leverage opportunities for targeted control and eradication and
- improve data collection and data management to facilitate more effective decision-making.
In the Great Lakes, where Asian carp put at risk the region’s $7 billion fishing industry, the administration invested more than $35 million in 2020 toward work by the U.S. Geological Survey, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service to combat the spread of invasive carps, including along the Mississippi River. In collaboration with partners, Interior has conducted control activities on 153,000 acres and removed more than 8.5 million pounds of Asian carp from the Illinois River.
In the Florida Everglades, where Burmese pythons consume native wildlife and disrupt the ecosystem, a portion of the more than $20 billion the administration has committed to restore the South Florida ecosystem will be used to combat pythons’ spread. Using new technologies such a radio telemetry, Interior for the first time is tracking pythons in many different habitats to better understand their biology and ultimately find ways to more effectively control this invasive species.
To protect the Western United States from quagga and zebra mussels that annually cause more than $1 billion in economic impact and management costs, Interior launched numerous initiatives in 2017 in collaboration with western governors and federal, state and tribal agencies. Interior has invested approximately $41 million since Fiscal Year 2017 to identify and implement actions such as boat inspections with states, and early detection of and rapid response to mussel invasions.
Interior has been supporting efforts to eradicate brown tree snakes in Guam, where they cause $4.5 million annually in damage to electric power, tourism, recreation and national security infrastructure. Over the past four years, the Office of Insular Affairs has provided more than $12 million for the Brown Tree Snake Control program to help islanders prevent the dispersal of the snakes from Guam to other vulnerable geographic areas in the Micronesia region including Hawaii and to ultimately eradicate existing or newly established snake populations in U.S. areas.