Combating Invasive Species

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Western Governors’ Association
Policy Resolution 2016-05

Combating Invasive Species


  1. The National Invasive Species Council defines an invasive species as “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” In the West, invasive species may also include native plants, such as those found in Pinyon-Juniper ecosystems, that have over-dominated a landscape reducing the plant diversity to the point of impacting water quality and quantity, wildlife, fire threats, and agriculture production. The rapid spread of invasive species continues to be one of our country's biggest environmental problems and is creating economic and ecologic damage across our western landscapes and Pacific Islands.
  2. Western Governors recognize that the spread of invasive species results from a combination of human activities, susceptibility of invaded environments, biology of the invading species, and dispersal. These characteristics are not dictated by geopolitical boundaries, but rather by ecosystem-level factors, which often cross state borders. Scientists and land managers across the West have expressed the need to develop a strategy for more aggressive invasive species prevention, early detection, control and management. Such a strategy should include the creation of a western invasive species inventory, as well as improved data management protocols.
  3. Many of these invasive species were introduced, or their distribution was expanded, due to inadequate implementation of federal and state regulations dealing with interstate transport, international trade and interstate commerce.


  1. Western Governors support coordinated prevention efforts and early detection and rapid response with multistate management and eradication actions to limit or eliminate new introductions and existing species expansion. Programs for the control and/or eradication of invasive species must result in more on-the-ground prevention, management and eradication. Western Governors also support research as an additional critical element needed to provide understanding of invasive species life cycles, potential range distribution, and to develop geographically appropriate control measures.
  2. Western Governors support efforts by Congress to properly and promptly classify invasive species to reduce barriers to participation in remediation activities by federal agencies in partnership with states.
  3. Western Governors strongly encourage expansion and creation of partnerships, such as invasive species councils with representation from local pest and weed districts, conservation districts, county governments, private organizations, local stakeholders, state, island, tribal, federal and international agencies to prevent the spread of invasive species, avert new unauthorized introductions, respond rapidly to new introductions, and work together to find creative new regional approaches for protecting and restoring natural, agriculture, power and water conveyance infrastructure, and recreational resources.
  4. Western Governors urge Congress and the Administration to support invasive species prevention, control/management programs on state, U.S. Flag Islands, federal and tribal lands. This should be accomplished through accountability and oversight of fund management under the National Invasive Species Act and programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These programs provide valuable services in the detection and elimination of invasive species, as well as coordination, public outreach, and communication. Western Governors urge Congress and the administration to support much needed research on invasive species.
  5. We call upon Congress to promote and not impede state-directed programs to combat invasive species. Regional leadership and state directed programs provide place-based solutions tailored to unique regional or local conditions in land and aquatic ecosystems. The federal role should be one of partnership and policy-making that strengthen state’s on-the-ground efforts, and mitigating risks associated with the movement of invasive species between states.
  6. Western Governors support the creation of a west-wide invasive species inventory that is accessible to local, state and federal agencies, as well as the development of data management standards, formats, and protocols to ensure inter-operability to support information transfer, national distribution mapping, and awareness of species occurrences and spread. To this end, Western Governors will facilitate the development of such an inventory and recommendations for data management standards, formats and protocols that might be used by federal, state, and local land and resource managers.


  1. The Governors direct WGA staff to work with Congressional committees of jurisdiction, the Executive Branch, and other entities, where appropriate, to achieve the objectives of this resolution.
  2. Furthermore, the Governors direct WGA staff to consult with the Staff Advisory Council regarding its efforts to realize the objectives of this resolution and to keep the Governors apprised of its progress in this regard.

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