New US government report on invasive plant management

Michael Mace
Thu, 11 Dec 2003 22:58:25 PST
Hi, gang.

(This message will be of little interest to folks outside the US; you might
want to just skip ahead to the next message.)

As we all know, there has been a lot of regulatory activity in the US
government regarding seeds and bulbs from overseas, with hints of much
harsher actions to come.  I've never had time to dig into the subject as
deeply as I'd like, but I have been trying to keep track of what's

Recently a government working group posted a report that gave me a little
hope.  It proposes an invasive plants management strategy that focuses not
on banning plants from entering the country, but on finding and eradicating
invasive ones as soon as they show up in the wild.  What's more, it proposes
using people like us as allies to identify escaping plants so that they can
be attacked before they become established (it even proposes the creation of
a "listserve" to share information about invasive plants).

I don't know if this represents a real change of heart in the government, or
I'm just misreading it.  But I'd like to believe we could move the
discussion away from regulation and toward collaboration.  (The other
approach I've seen, labeling the people who advocate weed control
"fascists," feels good but I think just marginalizes those making the

Anyway, I thought I'd mention the report here, and see if anyone
better-informed than me would like to comment.  Any thoughts?  If there's a
chance to shove the government in this direction, I'd like to help push.

Here's the URL for the report:

Below is an excerpt that captures the basic idea.  Sorry for all the
acronyms -- it really is a government report.  (EDRR is the acronym for this
early detection and eradication approach.)

San Jose, CA (zone 9, min temp 20F)


Clearly, there is no single strategy that will solve the invasive species
problem. However, a combination of strategies will work to minimize it.
These include inspection and pest mitigation at the borders, EDRR to new
invaders, and long-term management.

Of all these options, FICMNEW suggests that EDRR is the most cost-effective
and most environmentally sound approach-

* EDRR does not restrict trade and movement of species that may or may
not become invasive;
* EDRR addresses only species that have established free-living,
* EDRR causes minimal and short-term impacts on the invaded habitat;

Develop a National Early Detection and Reporting System for Invasive

Develop mechanisms for early detection and reporting of suspected new
plants by the general public and a formal network of amateur and

Action 1: Establish National Early Detection Network for New Plant
* Establish cadres of professionals to conduct active detection and
coordinate with a network of volunteers nationwide. The volunteer
network should function and support detection at all levels
* Develop a National Early Detection Network of active amateur and
professional plant enthusiasts across the United States to assist in
detecting and reporting new plant species-this includes cooperating
with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS),
U.S. Geological Survey, and others to develop a Web-based system for
monitoring the sale of invasive plants on the Internet. Encourage
detection and reporting by concerned landowners, ranchers, farmers,
certified crop consultants, master gardeners, public land volunteer
groups, Exotic Pest Plant Councils (EPPC), and others.

Action 2: Create Early Detection Network Directory and Listserve.
*Create an Early Detection Network Directory and Listserve for
communicating with network members.

Action 3: Develop Incentives for Plant Enthusiasts.
* Develop incentives for enthusiasts to become active in the network.

Action 4: Develop a Volunteer Training and Certification Program.
* Develop a volunteer training and certification program for detection
of target invasive plants.

Action 5: Create Lists of Target Species.
* Develop a computer-assisted system for identifying target species that
pose a risk to particular land units (e.g., forests, preserves, refuges,
parks, counties, States) in cooperation with the Biota of North America

Action 6: Establish a Toll-Free Number and Web Site.
* Establish a toll-free number and Web site for the general public to use
in seeking information about suspected new invasive plants or
coordinate with existing Web sites, systems, or networks.

Action 7: Support Local Contact Agencies.
* Request that personnel at local offices-of agencies such as USDI's
Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA's
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Forest Service;
Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
(CSREES); APHIS-and County weed directors, certified crop advisors,
and taxonomists act as local contacts for the Early Detection system.
Rapid and accurate identification of a potential threat is a critical first
step before targeting acquisition of and eliminating that threat.
Improve the capacity to effectively and rapidly identify, voucher, and
report suspected invasive plants.

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