National Management Plan: Survey of Federal Roles and Responsibilities

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[Executive Summary] | [Introduction] | [Survey of Federal Roles & Responsibilities] | [An Action Plan for the Nation] | [Conclusion] | [Appendices]

Invasive species and the problems they create are far from new. The River and Harbors Act of 1899 directed the Department of Defense's Army Corps of Engineers to manage aquatic invasive plants. State laws requiring the eradication or control of invasive weeds have been on the books for more than 100 years. Many Federal laws, authorities, and programs, as well as international agreements and treaties, have been established as part of efforts to prevent, control, and manage the many different types of invasive species and their impacts. More than 20 Federal agencies now have responsibilities, authorities, and programs that address some aspect of the invasive species issue. Some of these programs are significant in their breadth and scope [e.g., the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)] and some focus on specific, high profile aspects of the overall problem (e.g., the Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs oversees a program to control and contain the brown tree snake).

The major Federal invasive species efforts currently in place are outlined in this section. Further detail is provided in Appendix 2. A list of legal authorities can be found in Appendix 3. Although many Federal programs and responsibilities cut across several aspects of the invasive species issue, they have been grouped under the headings of prevention; early detection and rapid response; control, management, and restoration; research and monitoring; international measures; public outreach and partnership efforts; other interagency efforts; and related issues. More complete reports describing Federal authorities are available elsewhere (e.g., U.S. Congress, OTA 1993; National Plant Board 1999; U.S. General Accounting Office 2000).

The States have numerous programs relating to the wide variety of invasive species issues and also play a critical role in preventing and controlling the spread of invasive species. Generally, the States, except on Federal lands and where specifically provided by Federal law or international treaty, have jurisdiction over resident fish and wildlife. Nothing in this Plan alters or modifies existing State or Federal jurisdiction in any way. A description or analysis of the wide variety of State policies and programs is beyond the scope of this Plan. However, coordination and joint action with State partners is an important element of many of the Plan's action items (next section). State, tribal, local, and foreign government participation will be critical to addressing the U.S.'s invasive species problems.

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The Council's member Departments spent approximately $631.5 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 on invasive species issues (U.S. General Accounting Office 2000). The Department of Agriculture (USDA), a Council co-chair, has by far the largest budget to address invasive species, with USDA agencies accounting for almost 90 percent of the spending. USDA has jurisdiction over the importation and exportation of plant species, plant pests, biological control organisms, and animals considered to be plant pests or a threat to livestock or poultry health. It also has authority over forest pests and management of invasive species in the U.S.'s 190 million acre National Forest and Grasslands System.

The Department of the Interior (Interior) has a much smaller program - approximately $31 million in FY 2000 - accounting for about 5 percent of the total Federal invasive species expenditures (U.S. General Accounting Office 2000). Interior regulates the importation of animals found to be injurious, enforces laws and regulations governing the import and export of all wildlife into the U.S., plays a key role in implementing actions to address aquatic invasive species and has responsibility for management of invasive species on the lands managed by its agencies.

The Department of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is trustee for the Nation's marine resources and has programs to deal with aquatic invasive species. NOAA's primary focus has been on research and outreach regarding aquatic invasive species. In FY 2000, NOAA spent a total of $5.5 million on these programs.

The Department of Defense (Defense) spent a total of $14.5 million in FY 2000 controlling invasive species on its installations and ensuring that invasive species are not transferred into the United States or to other nations during its operations (U.S. General Accounting Office 2000). Most of these funds ($9.1 million) were spent to control aquatic plant growth (most of which are invasive species) and support research on zebra mussels.

Other Federal Departments play limited but important roles. For example, U.S. Customs Service (USCS), works with USDA and Interior to enforce laws prohibiting or limiting the entry of invasive species. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates chemical pesticides and biopesticides. It also reviews environmental impact statements.

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The protection of agriculture has been, and continues to be, the primary focus of Federal efforts to prevent invasions of non-native species, but damage to natural areas is increasing in priority. About half of the total Federal expenditures on invasive species are for prevention activities. The new Plant Protection Act (PPA), which consolidated the authorities in the Plant Quarantine Act, Federal Plant Pest Act, Federal Noxious Weed Act, and other plant-related statutes, authorizes USDA to prohibit or restrict the importation or interstate movement of any plant, plant product, biological control organism, or plant pest. "Plant pest" is defined very broadly to include almost any living organism (other than humans) that damages or causes disease to any plant. The PPA specifically authorizes USDA to hold, seize, quarantine, treat, or destroy any plant or plant pest moving in interstate commerce if necessary to prevent the movement of a plant pest or Federally listed noxious weed into a new area. In addition, USDA "preclears" some shipments before they can be exported from foreign countries to the United States to ensure that they are free of certain invasive species. It has long been recognized that the resources for USDA's exclusion activities have not kept pace with the increased volume of trade and tourism.

USDA also has authority to regulate the importation and interstate movement of certain invasive animal species under a number of statutes collectively referred to as the animal quarantine laws. These laws authorize USDA to prevent the introduction and dissemination of communicable diseases and pests of livestock and poultry. The USDA also regulates the importation or exportation of veterinary biological products and prohibits the importation or shipment of any veterinary products that are contaminated, dangerous, or harmful.

The movement of seed is regulated under the Federal Seed Act, which prohibits the importation of any agricultural or vegetable seed containing high-risk weed seeds. The Federal Seed Act also allows the interstate transport of seed containing other specifically listed weed seeds, as long as the shipment is accurately labeled and the density of those weed seeds does not exceed the tolerance levels for the State in which it is offered.

Interior regulates the importation of animals found to be injurious under the Lacey Act. The species that have been specifically listed as injurious include 12 genera of mammals, 4 species of birds, 1 reptile, 1 mollusk, and 1 crustacean. Interior's port inspection program is relatively small - in FY 1999, the budget was just over $3 million. Several provisions within the Lacey Act limit Interior's ability to comprehensively address invasive species introductions. Most notably, the Act is limited to only vertebrates, mollusks, and crustaceans.

A number of Departmental agencies are charged with preventing and controlling the introduction of aquatic nuisance species under the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), NOAA, the EPA, USDA, Defense, and the Departments of Transportation (Transportation), and State (State) are all represented on the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF), which coordinates Federal activities to implement the Act. Transportation is charged with issuing regulations to prevent introductions through the ballast water of vessels. Specifically, they have issued regulations requiring management of ballast water in the Great Lakes and Hudson River, and issued voluntary guidelines to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native species from ballast water in ships entering other U.S. waters from outside the exclusive economic zone.

Defense transports large shipments of equipment into the U.S. that could harbor invasive species. These shipments are inspected by USDA agents. In addition, Defense and other departments ship a great number of items to other countries and take actions to ensure they don't cause problems in other countries. The U.S. Customs Service assists USDA and Interior in the enforcement of plant and animal regulations by detaining, where applicable, imported or exported products pending their clearance by agency inspectors.

The Federal land management agencies in both USDA and Interior have internal prevention strategies as well as interagency programs such as Noxious Weed-Seed Free Forage and Mulch program and the Slow the Spread program (which is intended to prevent the further spread of gypsy moth in the eastern forests).

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Early Detection and Rapid Response

A number of Federal Departments have programs to detect, assess, and respond to invasions by non-native species. This section specifically addresses Departments that have special or emergency authority to identify and address new or incipient invasions rapidly - before invasive species can become established or widespread, while eradication is still cost effective and possible. Only USDA has emergency authority to deal with an incipient invasion. Both the PPA and the animal quarantine laws described above provide authority to seize, quarantine, destroy, hold, and treat prohibited species that are imported into the United States or moved between States. These authorities also authorize the USDA to declare an extraordinary emergency in order to address a situation in which the prohibited species has not been moved but a State is unable or unwilling to take appropriate action to prevent dissemination of a plant pest or a communicable disease of livestock or poultry.

In addition, Interior has established four exotic plant management teams to identify, eradicate, or control small, localized infestations on lands managed by the National Park Service. Many departments have interagency and interdepartmental rapid response teams. All Federal rapid response actions must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

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Control, Management and Restoration

All Federal land and water management agencies within Interior, NOAA, and Defense have authority to control and manage invasive species as well as restore affected areas on their lands and waters. This authority arises from the various agency organic acts and other statutes that govern management, uses, and planning on the lands and waters under their jurisdiction. The level of effort and budgetary resources for management, control, and restoration vary with each Department. None of them has the resources to control every invasive species present on Federal lands and waters. Departments and their agencies also work in partnership with States and private landowners to control invasive species on public lands. These efforts are summarized below in the section on Partnership Efforts.

The Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act (NANPCA) enables the Federal members of the ANSTF to undertake control actions in addition to prevention and monitoring activities. NANPCA also provides regulatory authority to FWS, NOAA, and Transportation for control activities. To date, this regulatory authority has not been used because it is only applicable to unintentional introductions, and there is uncertainty as to the extent of the authority.

The EPA has authority under three statutes that can be used to control and manage invasive species. The EPA may have authority under the Clean Water Act to control and manage invasive species through permits or other requirements and programs and is currently reviewing its authorities under the Clean Water Act relative to invasive species. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires manufacturers and importers who produce or sell a pest control product to register the compound with the EPA. FIFRA is a critical statute for invasive species whenever pesticides are used to control or reduce the impact of invasive species. Examples include the use of a pesticide to control lamprey populations in the Great Lakes and the use of herbicides to control noxious weeds. FIFRA also gives EPA review authority for biopesticides when they are used to control invasive pests. Finally, EPA reviews all environmental impact statements under NEPA. This review, conducted in EPA's regional offices, now includes an explicit consideration of the proposed action with regard to invasive species.

A number of Departments are involved in control and management efforts. USDA has authority under the PPA and other statutes for the control and management of invasive species. The PPA specifically authorizes USDA to develop integrated management plans for noxious weeds for the geographic region where the weed is found. The Emergency Watershed Program gives NRCS authority to provide technical and financial assistance to carry out restoration following declaration of a disaster. Defense manages aquatic plants and other invasive species in 562 reservoirs, 237 navigation locks, 962 harbors, 75 hydropower projects, and 25,000 miles of inland and coastal waterways through its operations and maintenance activities.

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Research and Monitoring

Almost all the Departments with major responsibilities in the areas of prevention and control of invasive species also have research and monitoring programs to support their efforts. For several agencies with USDA, Interior, and NOAA, research and monitoring are very significant activities. USDA regularly monitors its emergency programs to determine efficacy and potential environmental impacts, and through the Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey program has developed a database system to store information collected in the surveys of agricultural pests, which is called the National Agriculture Pest Information System (NAPIS). USDA also conducts significant research efforts on invasive species under its various authorities. It provides leadership in developing biological control technologies, as well as research on invasive insects and pathogens of concern to forest, rangelands, and wetlands. It also establishes partnerships for the integrated management of invasive species. Defense has a number of research programs focused on aquatic plant problems and zebra mussels. In addition, EPA conducts research on the risks associated with invasive species and monitors the extent of invasive species spread by ecosystem type as part of its Research and Development authority. Interior coordinates important information systems on non-native aquatic species in ecosystems.

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Information Management

Departments engaged in invasive species prevention and control activities have developed a variety of databases and decision support tools to increase predictive capacity for preventing introduction of new invasives and to improve control efforts in both agricultural production and conservation areas. The Smithsonian Institution and various research and development bureaus and agencies of the Council (especially USDA, Interior, and NOAA) have incorporated computer-assisted digital photography and rapid dissemination to taxonomic experts via the World Wide Web to speed identification of pests and noxious weeds in trade. Databases at USDA record and analyze information on pests intercepted at ports of entry. Research and informatics programs at the USDA Forest Service and the Interior's U.S. Geological Survey document and analyze the spread of invasive species such as forest pathogens and aquatic nuisance species. These structured databases and other new technologies under development for locating and treating aquatic and terrestrial invasive species have greatly enhanced the ability of land and water managers to stop the spread of some of the most invasive species. Interior and USDA have joined efforts to combine components of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) and various research and bibliographic databases at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) to assist the Council in its charge to implement a web-based network capability for information sharing among professionals and the public at large.

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International Measures

The global dimensions of the invasive species problem increase as trade, tourism, and transport expand. Any realistic strategy to prevent the spread of invasive species must be built upon international agreements, cooperation, and capacity building. The U.S. Government plays an active role and provides leadership in efforts to prevent and control invasions of non-native species internationally. For example: USDA leads U.S. negotiations under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and works with the World Trade Organization to facilitate regulations concerning imports to prevent invasions under the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) leads or directs U.S. negotiations with other countries through meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Interior leads the United States in negotiations on invasive species in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). State leads negotiations under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is providing financial support to several international meetings of policy makers. Transportation has led U.S. efforts to address the issue of ballast water management within the International Maritime Organization (IMO). It has also sponsored the resolution adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that calls for participation by ICAO and national aviation authorities in the prevention and control of invasive species transported by air. Defense undertakes agreements on the management of invasive species with the defense departments of other nations and supports the development and implementation of regional programs of cooperation on invasive species, such as the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The EPA leads U.S. activities under the North American Agreement for Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC). In the Great Lakes region, the EPA and NOAA work on invasive species issues in close association with the governments of Canada and the Baltic region, the U.S.-Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, and the U.S.-Canada International Joint Commission (IJC). The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports projects to control invasive species in developing countries, especially when food, water, or health security are at risk. The National Science Foundation (NSF) promotes exchanges of scientists and research collaborations with other countries.

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Public Outreach and Partnership Efforts

Given the scope and pervasiveness of the invasive species problem, outreach and partnership efforts play a center stage role in many Federal efforts. Prevention efforts will not be fully successful without the participation of an informed public. Control efforts in many cases cannot be successful unless all affected landowners --- including State, local, tribal, and private -- cooperate and coordinate the control action. A number of Federal Departments have special projects and programs that provide information to the public or assistance to State, local, and private landowners for control efforts, especially agencies within the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce. Commerce conducts outreach efforts on aquatic invasive species. USDA conducts public information campaigns directed at travelers and their extension specialists provide information to the public.(See Appendix 3, Public Outreach and Partnership Efforts).

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Other Interagency Efforts

There are a number of Federal entities that provide coordination among Federal agencies regarding different aspects of the invasive species problem. The Executive Order on Invasive Species specifically directs the Council to work with three of these, the:

1) Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF), which coordinates activities relating to aquatic invasive species;

2) Federal Interagency Committee on the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (FICMNEW), which coordinates weed management efforts on Federal lands; and

3) Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), which coordinates research efforts.

There are many other important organizations and interagency efforts that Council members have and will continue to work with on invasive species issues.

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Related Issues

A number of related issues repeatedly emerged during the development of information on Federal roles and responsibilities. The first issue is whether existing legal authorities are sufficient and whether and how they can be better utilized. The second issue is whether existing legal and regulatory authorities are being adequately enforced. These issues will be addressed in the analysis required under the leadership and coordination section of the plan. The third issue is whether human and financial resources are adequate to address the problem. A number of action items in the Plan highlight the need for additional resources.

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