States Department of Interior | United
States Department of Agriculture | United
States Department of Commerce
PRESIDENT CLINTON EXPANDS FEDERAL EFFORT TO COMBAT INVASIVE SPECIES
Release No. 0043.99
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 1999 President Clinton today is signing an executive
order to coordinate a federal strategy to address the growing environmental
and economic threat of invasive species, plants and animals that are not
native to the United States.
USDA: Andy Solomon (202) 720-4623
Interior: Tim Ahern (202) 208-5089
Commerce: Matt Stout (202) 482-6090
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt,
and Commerce Under Secretary James Baker told a news conference that the
order creates an Invasive Species Council. The Council will develop a comprehensive
plan to minimize the economic, ecological, and human health impacts of
invasive species and determine further steps to prevent the introduction
and spread of invasive species. The Council, to be chaired by Glickman,
Babbitt, and Commerce Secretary William Daley, will work in cooperation
with a variety of groups, including states, tribes, scientists, universities,
environmental groups, farm organizations, shipping interests, and the business
"This is a unified, all-out battle against unwanted plant and animal
pests that threaten to wreak major economic and environmental havoc," said
Glickman. "Asian long-horned beetles destroy trees. Leafy spurge reduces
the productivity of grazing land by 50 to 75 percent. Zebra mussels clog
water intake pipes, shutting down electrical utilities. These are serious
"There are a lot of global bioinvasive hitchhikers, and now is the time
to take action," said Babbitt. "The costs to habitat and the economy are
racing out of control. New resources are needed now, and this order opens
the door to accomplish just that."
"This executive order is good news for our ongoing fight against the
invasion of marine alien species. The ocean serves as a highway in transporting
these invasive species into U.S. waters," said Baker. "Every minute 40,000
gallons of foreign ballast water is dumped into U.S. harbors -- this water
contains a multitude of non-indigenous organism which could alter or destroy
America's natural marine ecosystems."
President Clinton's budget for fiscal year 2000, released on Monday,
proposes an increase of more than $28.8 million in funding to combat invasive
species. This includes new funding for combating exotic pests and diseases
as well as accelerating research on habitat restoration and biologically-based
integrated pest management tactics.
Many ecologists believe the spread of exotic species constitutes one
of the most serious, yet least appreciated, threats to biodiversity. Invasive
plants inflict a heavy toll on American agriculture, reducing the quality
and raising the cost of food, feed, and fiber. Experts estimate that invasive
plants already infest over 100 million acres. Three million acres, an area
twice the size of Delaware, is lost to invasive plants each year. The total
economic impact of invasive species on the U.S. economy is estimated to
be about $123 billion annually. Some examples --
Today's announcement signals an expanded effort to combat invasive species.
The President's order directs federal agencies to use their authority to
prevent the introduction of invasive species and to restore native species.
It directs the new interagency Council to come up with an detailed invasive
species management plan within 18 months.
The zebra mussel can shut down electrical utilities by clogging water intake
pipes and threatens to cause an estimated $5 billion in damages by 2002,
if left unchecked.
Leafy spurge causes more than $144 million in livestock forage damage each
year in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Invading sea lampreys caused the collapse of lake trout and other Great
Lakes fisheries, costing the U.S. and Canada $13 million annually to control.
The brown tree snake has caused over 200 snake bites, 1200 electrical outages
and the extinction of most native forest birds on Guam.
When the Asian long-horned beetle infested Brooklyn, New York, more than
2000 trees had to be destroyed, costing the federal and state government
more than $5 million. A similar infestation now plagues Chicago.
Federal officials were joined at today's announcement by eminent Harvard
biologist E.O. Wilson. Other scientists who have led calls for stronger
federal action to combat invasive species include James T. Carlton of Williams
College; Don C. Schmitz of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection;
Daniel Simberloff, the Nancy Gore Hunger Professor of Excellence in Environmental
Science at the University of Tennessee; and Phyllis N. Windle, author of
a Congressional report on invasive species.
Aggressive federal actions are already underway, including measures
to prevent entry of invasive species, eradicate invasive species before
establishment, control invasive species once established, and conduct outreach
and education for the general public. These actions include --
To prevent entry of invasive species, USDA has over 1300 inspectors stationed
at more than 90 ports of entry inspecting shipments moving into the U.S.
The inspectors are assisted in some ports by the Beagle Brigade, a group
of dogs trained to sniff out prohibited agricultural products.
USDA has prohibited the importation of untreated wood packing material
from China, which have previously carried the Asian long-horned beetle
into the United States and is considering extending this ban to other countries.
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service will build a barrier this spring in the
Chicago Ship Canal to prevent the spread of invasive species between the
Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins.
The Interior Department is spending $4.5 million annually to prevent the
spread of the brown tree snake from Guam.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal
and state agencies are working to restore the natural ecology of the South
Florida and Everglades ecosystems. As this massive replumbing gets underway,
NOAA has made it clear to its Federal and state partners that safeguards
must be taken to ensure that the new water flows do not become highways
for exotic species to be transported through Florida's fragile environment.
NOAA is sponsoring research on new technologies for treatment of ballast
water to reduce the treat of foreign organisms being discharged into U.S.
The Department of Defense is an active participant in a comprehensive effort
to control the brown tree snake on Guam and to prevent its further spread.
Key elements are an extensive control program on Guam, continued support
of research efforts to develop new control measures, and participation
in Oahu's island-wide surveillance and response plan.
The Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic
Weeds collaborated on research and publication of a comprehensive fact
book on invasive plants.
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Last updated: 2/3/99