National Goal 1

Effective Prevention

The most efficient and cost-effective way to stop the establishment and subsequent damage by invasive plants is to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place. To do this, foreign invasive plants must be stopped from accidentally or intentionally arriving in this country.

Invasive plants that are already here must be prevented from infesting new areas. Hundreds of invasive plants infest millions of acres of range, forest, wild areas, and croplands in the United States; thousands of potentially invasive species are not yet present in the country.

Objective 1.1--

Preventing New Invasions: Stop invasive plant entry and spread.

It is vital to improve procedures to intercept invasive plants at the border and prevent their spread within the United States. Plants known to be invasive must be prevented from entering the country. Invasive plants already established in the United States must be kept from spreading to uninfested areas. Procedures need to be established to evaluate and mitigate the risk that any plant species proposed for importation may pose.

Opportunities for partnerships: Tourist boards, government agencies, and conservation and industry organizations can pool resources for education and outreach to the public. Land managers can review activities authorized or conducted for their potential to spread invasive plants. Research agencies can share expertise to develop risk assessment tools and commodity screening technologies to minimize the spread of problem species.

Opportunities for education: Foreign and domestic travelers and tourists need to understand how to help prevent the spread of invasive plants into and throughout the United States. Hikers, boaters, hunters, anglers, equestrians, and other users of natural areas need to be informed about outdoor practices that prevent the spread of invasive plants to uninfested areas. Importers of plants and plant materials can evaluate the risk of new introductions becoming invasive.

Opportunities for research: New procedures must be developed to improve inspection of materials at ports of entry or between states that could increase the establishment of invasive plants. Basic ecological studies are needed to determine what conditions make ecosystems vulnerable to plant invasion. Risk assessment procedures are needed to determine the invasive potential of new plants proposed for import. Additional controlled breeding and selection of nonnative plants may be needed to minimize invasive tendencies.

Objective 1.2--

Detecting and Monitoring: Expand and improve systems for detecting, reporting, and monitoring new infestations of invasive plants.

Early detection of new infestations, both of plants known to be invasive and those not known to spread aggressively, will keep eradication and control costs at a minimum. Information is needed regarding initial sightings of new plants with invasive potential and new infestations of recognized problem plants. In addition, a national system for storing and disseminating information about weed occurrences would drastically improve our ability to fight invasive plants.

Opportunities for partnerships: Establishing a national network among landowners, public land management agencies, recreation groups, conservation organizations, botanists, horticulturists, and weed organizations to report new invasive plant infestations would help meet detection and monitoring objectives. An herbarium or other facility could serve as a central repository for this information, making it available on the Internet, creating a national alert system so that new and spreading plants can be monitored nationally.

Opportunities for education: Schools, conservation groups, weed organizations, outdoor recreation groups, garden clubs, nature centers, and extension programs could help raise public awareness about the effects of invasive plants on lands, waters, wildlife, native vegetation, and agriculture.

Opportunities for research: Effective and standardized invasive plant monitoring protocols are needed. Tools must be developed to assess the invasive potential of recently arrived foreign species. Technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing need to be adapted so that invasive plant distributions and their potential ecological range in the United States could be located and mapped.

Objective 1.3--

Complying with Laws and Regulations: Provide resources to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.

Coordination of State and Federal laws and regulations would improve control of widespread invasive plants such as kudzu or leafy spurge. Effective regulation of interstate movement of invasive plants will further protect agricultural and natural resource areas and other ecosystems from invasion by new species of plants.

Opportunities for partnerships: States with existing invasive plant legislation can coordinate activities between other states and federal agencies to provide adequate enforcement.

Opportunities for education: Concerned citizens, consumer groups, conservation organizations, industry, and our national leaders can be informed about the costs of invasive plants on our food prices, user fees, habitat quality, and biodiversity. They also can be informed about existing Federal and State laws and regulations and the roles of various agencies in responding to invasive plant problems.

Opportunities for research: The full economic impact of invasive plant infestations needs to be determined in order to demonstrate the cost savings associated with preventing new infestations.

Objective 1.4--

Using Native Species: Expand use of native species for ornamental and conservation purposes.

Native plant species provide forage, cover, and habitat required by native fauna. Use of native species for landscaping, rights-of-way, erosion control, and habitat improvement will help prevent the inadvertent spread of nonnative invasive plants and help maintain local biodiversity.

Opportunities for partnerships: The demand for native plant nursery stock is increasing, and the nursery industry and others can help develop and expand this national market. State and private nurseries can work with State and Federal conservation agencies to provide stock for native plantings.

Opportunities for education: All plant users need to know about the native plant choices available that will meet their goals. These goals include ornamental planting, rights-of-way, buffer strips, and restoration of natural areas. Native plant conservation groups can work at the "grass-roots" level to stimulate local awareness and interest in native plants.

Opportunities for research: Research is needed to identify the most effective means of seed harvest and propagation for a wide range of native plants. Cleaning methods for removing invasive plant seed from native plant seedlots can be developed so that weed-free certification is feasible. Methods to maintain native plantings, especially during the first few years, must be developed or improved. Additional controlled breeding and selection of native plants may be needed to ensure horticultural value, landscape adaptability, and consumer acceptance.