The Washington Invasive Species Council approved an updated statewide strategy to prevent invading plants and animals from taking hold in the state’s forests, waters and farms.
The strategy calls for a broad range of actions focusing on preventing new species from establishing here, educating the public and rapidly deploying when species are found to prevent their spread. The 5-year strategy is available at InvasiveSpecies.wa.gov.
“We know how to stop invasive species,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “However, to do so will take all of us working together. Everyone has a role to play, from hikers and anglers, farmers and ranchers, to agency officials and decision makers.”
More than 200 invasive species are known to be present in Washington. The state’s economy, recreation, values, culture and native species are threatened by these damaging plants and animals. Scientists estimate that $1.2 billion annually is at risk if there is no prevention or management of invasive species.
“Of all potentially impacted sectors, hydroelectric dams and irrigation infrastructure are most at risk. If an invasive species such as quagga or zebra mussels establish in Washington’s waters, it could cost $100 million a year or more to protect our state’s abundant source of renewable energy and keep water flowing to our agricultural lands,” said Shaun Seaman, a member of the Washington Invasive Species Council representing Chelan County Public Utility District. “This does not include potentially irrevocable impacts to listed species, habitat, and fish.”
For example, Washington’s agricultural exports total more than $7 billion, recreational fishing generates an estimated $424 million and Washington’s national parks, forests, trails, wild and scenic rivers and wildlife refuges offer ample recreational activities that contribute $21.6 billion to the state’s economy annually.
“We are facing new threats to our forest and aquatic resources,” said Blain Reeves, council vice chair representing the Washington Department of Natural Resources. “Invasive species threaten trees and forest health, risking more than $200 million in revenue generated annually from state lands for trust beneficiaries, including public schools, state universities and correctional facilities. Invasive species also prey on native species such as salmon or crab. Additionally, they alter and destroy aquatic habitat that salmon, geoduck and other valuable resources depend on for survival.”
The state Legislature created the Washington Invasive Species Council in 2006 to reduce risks to Washington’s economy and environment. The council is a partnership of tribal, local, state and federal governments, as well as private sector and non-governmental interests. The council provides policy-level direction, planning and coordination support to the various organizations managing invasive species prevention and response throughout Washington State.
“There are many resources and characteristics that make Washington State a special place that we all know and love,“ said Joe Maroney, chair of the Invasive Species Council representing the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. “We have an obligation to protect and preserve this for the present and future.”