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.
To Prevent and Stop Invasive Species We Need Your Help
You can take simple actions to help prevent the introduction and spread of noxious weeds and invasive species.
- Clean your hiking boots, bikes, waders, boats and trailers, off-road vehicles and other gear before you venture outdoors to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location.
- On your next walk, watch for noxious weeds. Visit the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board’s Web site to learn about noxious weeds and if you spot some in your yard or while walking in your neighborhood, notify your county noxious weed control board.
- Download the WA Invasives mobile app so you are ready to report sightings of invasive species. Check out the Top 50 worst invaders.
- Dispose of unwanted pets, aquarium plants or water, science kits or live bait the proper way and NOT by dumping them into waterways. Released pets often suffer a slow death in winter, or may become invasive and damage our wildlife and agriculture. When it comes to unwanted pets or live bait, letting it loose is never the right thing to do. Visit the council’s Don’t Let It Loose Web page to learn the proper ways to dispose of unwanted pets and plants.
- Buy firewood where you’ll burn it, or gather it on site when permitted. Remember not to move firewood from the local area where harvested. Learn about the potential dangers of moving firewood.
- Do you enjoy catching salmon and steelhead? Protect them by not moving any fish from one water body into another. This will prevent the spread of fish diseases and also protect salmon and steelhead fisheries from non-native predatory fish. Learn more about moving fish.
- Use forage, hay or mulch that is certified as weed-free. Visit the Washington Department of Agriculture Web site to see details of its certification program.
- Plant only non-invasive plants in your garden, and remove any known invasive plants.
- Volunteer to survey public lands and trails as a Citizen Science Invasive Plant Monitor with the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council. Learn more.
- Become a Washington State University Master Gardener and help your community identify, report and properly manage exotic and invasive pests. Read details of the program.
- Volunteer to help remove invasive species from public lands and natural areas. Contact your local state, county or city parks and recreation department, or county WSU Extension office to learn more.
- Don’t pack a pest. Certain items obtained abroad may contain invasive insects, pathogens, or weed seeds. When traveling abroad, review travel guidelines on items that should not be brought back to the United States. Learn more about what you can bring home by visiting dontpackapest.com.