Watch: Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative Workshop in Montana

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock identified invasive species as one of the "great environmental and economic threats to western landscapes" at the Nov. 14 workshop of the Western Governors’ Biosecurity & Invasive Species Initiative.

"Invasive species can impact every aspect of life in the West, from agriculture to forestry, species conservation to recreation economies," Gov. Bullock said in Helena, Mont.

The Governor, who as WGA Chair in 2015-16 oversaw the highly effective National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative, encouraged attendees to attack the challenge directly.

"The intent is not just to gather a group of people and put out a report and have that report left somewhere on a shelf. The intent is to try and come together on some of the most vexing issues that we face throughout the West and say, 'How can we come together and meaningfully move the needle?' "

And problem solving has to look at a wide landscape, the Governor added. "(This) is not a local problem, but a global problem, one that can impact virtually every facet of natural resource management."

WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury opened the workshop, moderated by Invasive Species Action Network Executive Director Leah Elwell, by outlining the Initiative and how Western Governors will tackle the challenge.

"We are here to devise and lay the groundwork for implementation of on-the-ground solutions to the scourge of invasive species in the West. Because, as we have seen time and again, no one is more capable than Western Governors to approach land management challenges in a methodical, practical, effective and bipartisan way."

The central policy initiative of the WGA Chair Hawaii Gov. David Ige is focusing on the impacts that nuisance species, pests and pathogens have on ecosystems, forests, rangelands, watersheds, and infrastructure in the West, and examine the role that biosecurity plays in addressing these risks.

Following are links to watch each session of the workshop, moderated by Invasive Species Action Network Executive Director Leah Elwell.

Rapid Response for New Species and Disease Detections – Funding, Authorities, and Collaboration: WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury delivered opening remarks, followed by the first panel, which highlighted how effective partnerships, policies, and data sharing help managers respond efficiently to address new occurrences of invasive species. Panelists: John Vore – Game Management Bureau Chief, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; Gary Adams – State Plant Health Director, USDA APHIS; Josh Atwood – Program Supervisor, Hawaii Invasive Species Council; Hans Bodenhamer – Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto.

Regional Invasive Mussels Partnerships and Action Plans: Agency representatives and land managers examined effective regional partnerships to control the spread of invasive mussels. They also discussed opportunities and challenges when coordinating management actions between agencies. Panelists: Chuck Laudner – Senior Advisor for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, National Park Service; Elizabeth Brown – Invasive Species Coordinator, Colorado Parks & Wildlife; Germaine White – Natural Resources Division, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes; Steve Tyrrel – Central & Eastern Montana Mussel Response Team.

Case Study: Invasive Annual Grasses in the West: Ventenata, Medusahead and Cheatgrass:
Panelists examined the impacts that a variety of terrestrial invasive grasses have on western landscapes. Innovative management strategies and private landowner-led projects were highlighted. Panelists: Brian Mealor – Director and Associate Professor, Sheridan Research and Extension Center; Jane Mangold – Associate Professor and Extension Invasive Plant Specialist, Montana State University; Justin Hossfeld – President, Sunlight Ranches; Dave Burch – State Weed Coordinator, Montana Department of Agriculture.

Keynote: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock: The Governor talked about the challenges posed by invasive species in Montana and the region.

Where and When to Intervene on Invasive Species? Control at Early, Middle and Late Stages of Infestation: Costs and Successes:  Panelists discussed strategies when implementing early, mid, and late-stage invasive species controls and how to most effectively have a demonstrable impact with limited funds. Panelists: Helmuth Rogg – Director of Plant Program Area, Oregon Department of Agriculture; Rayola Jacobsen – Invasive Species Coordinator, Bruneau River & Soil Conservation District; Justin Bush – Executive Coordinator, Washington Invasive Species Council; Mike Ielmini – National Invasive Species Program Manager, U.S. Forest Service.

Aquatic Invasive Species and eDNA Tracking: Panelists discussed the impacts of aquatic invasive species in the Mountain West and exciting technologies that improve invasive mussels monitoring. Panelists: Tom Woolf – Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau Chief, Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks; Jon Amberg – Fish Biologist Researcher, U.S. Geological Survey; Elizabeth Brown – Invasive Species Coordinator, Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

Monitoring Invasive Species Infestations and Vectors:  A closer look at the spread of invasive species by focusing on crucial vectors is a major component of invasive species control programs. This panel examined how invasive species managers are effectively accomplishing this challenging task. Panelists: Leigh Greenwood – Forest Health Program Director, The Nature Conservancy;  Erin Raney – Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, State of Arizona; Christy Martin – Program Manager & PIO, UH-PCSU Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species. 

International Coordination on Feral Swine Management: Populations of invasive feral swine have been confirmed north of the Montana-Canada border. Panelists discussed collaborative management efforts at state, federal and international levels. Panelists: Ryan Brook – Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan; Dr. Tahnee Szymanski – Assistant State Veterinarian, Montana Department of Livestock; John Steuber – Montana State Director, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services; Michael Marlow – Assistant Program Manager, APHIS National Feral Swine Damage Management Program.

View the agenda

Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

sign up for our newsletters