Interior releases draft strategic plan on invasives

The Department of the Interior developed a new draft strategic plan to guide their approach of invasive species. Credit: Susan Jewell/USFWS

In response to legislation passed last year, the Department of the Interior released a plan to decrease the spread of invasive species by building on existing plans, promoting partnerships, raising awareness and more.

Earlier this month, the Interior released a draft strategic plan outlining their approach for addressing invasive species and opened it up for public comment. The goal of the plan, required by recent legislation, is to “align programs and policies” across the department and to leverage resources to address invasive species across the country.

“The threats posed by invasive species on native flora and fauna are substantial,” said Caroline Murphy, AWB®, director of government relations for The Wildlife Society. “We are pleased with the Department of the Interior’s attention to this issue through the development of this plan and look forward to working with the department to ensure the plan will empower wildlife professionals and sufficiently curb the spread of invasive species.”

Interior will spend an estimated $143 million to address invasive species in fiscal year 2020 alone. The department-wide draft plan builds upon existing invasive species plans at the agency level and aims to promote partnerships; raise awareness; strengthen prevention practices and improve the coordination of early detection and rapid response efforts; leverage opportunities for targeted control and eradication; and improve data collection and management.

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (Pub. L. 116-9), enacted in March 2019, directed the Secretary of the Interior to develop a strategic plan for the implementation of the invasive species program to achieve, to the maximum extent practicable, a substantive annual net reduction of invasive species populations or infested acreage on lands or waters managed by the department.

The legislation also directed the Secretary to develop the daft plan in coordination with state and local governments, in consultation with federally recognized Native American tribes and in accordance with the priorities established by governors.

To develop the draft, the department first solicited input from federally recognized Native American tribes, state, county and territorial governments, Alaska Native Corporations and the Native Hawaiian Community, through a series of teleconference listening sessions in November,. 2019.

The draft includes five goals:

  • Collaborate across Interior and with others to optimize operations through leveraging partnerships, educational efforts, and funding.
  • Cost-effectively prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species into and within the United States.
  • Implement early detection and rapid response efforts in coordination with other Federal agencies, States, Tribes, territories, and other partners to reduce potential damage and costs from new infestations becoming established.
  • Cost-effectively control established invasive species populations to reduce impacts and restore native species and ecosystems
  • Improve invasive species data management for decision-making.

Some metrics to determine success under the plan are included in the draft, while others will be incorporated in the final plan. Other metrics may be selectively added during implementation of the plan.

Interior will hold two public listening sessions to collect feedback on the draft plan, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 and Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Written comments will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 9, 2020.

Read TWS’ Position Statement on Invasive and Feral Species

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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