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USDA Forest Service
Rangeland Management & Vegetation Ecology - Invasive Species Program

1400 Independence Ave SW
3rd Floor SW Mailstop 1153
Washington DC 20250-1153

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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and Answers
What prompted the Forest Service to develop this National Strategy?


The exponential expansion of the invasive species problem across the country is degrading the health of America’s ecosystems. Each year, thousands of acres of forests, prairies, deserts, and aquatic areas are destroyed or weakened by aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. Invasive species impacts cost the American economy billions of dollars each year. Small landowners are some of the hardest hit by these infestations.

Realizing our significant role in addressing invasive species threats at the local, state, national, and international levels, we found that the best opportunity for success comes from working strategically using all of our scientific, management, and partnership resources in unison. When the Chief of the Forest Service elevated the invasive species threat to one of his top four priorities, there was a call for a national strategy that would focus the many and varied invasive species activities already underway across the agency under one vision.

A multidisciplinary team was established to build the Strategy and set the pace for an invasive species program that used better science to prioritize work, increased collaboration on the solutions to invasive species problems, and improved the systems of accountability to ensure the most efficient use of limited resources at all levels of the organization.

How will this strategy improve the invasive species work of the Forest Service?


The National Strategy builds off of existing successful activities that the Forest Service conducts against invasive species and joins them together in a cohesive fashion within four program elements and associated common themes that support all program activities in the agency. Under the Strategy, invasive species work will focus on one common goal: “Reduce, minimize, or eliminate the potential for introduction, establishment, spread, and impact of invasive species across all landscapes and ownerships.” In addition, the Strategy provides not only broad strategic guidance for operations, but also priority (short term) actions to help advance action at the local level and improve long term success across the agency.

The Strategy emphasizes expanding partnerships and collaboration in all of the four program elements: 1) Prevention, 2) Early Detection and Rapid Response, 3) Control and Management, and 4) Restoration and Rehabilitation. Examples of other aspects of the Strategy that will improve Forest Service work against invasive species include streamlining processes and procedures for environmental analyses, improving the budget structure and flexibility for invasive species program work, establishing and distributing additional guidance on best management practices, and increasing our support and coordination with local, state, tribal, national, and international organizations.

Will other groups or agencies have a role in the implementation of the National Strategy?


Yes. Invasive species know no boundaries, and the process that has proven most successful against these insidious invaders is the ‘team approach’. The Forest Service is committed to collaborating with other groups and agencies in the battle against invasive species. As the Forest Service implements the Strategy and increases its activities against invasive species, it will need partners from all levels and interests. The Forest Service recognizes that much of the knowledge base and skills needed to win the battle against invasive species will be found outside of the agency. The Strategy is a public document that will help guide Forest Service programs to reach the goal and we welcome and encourage participation in its implementation.

Will the strategy focus only on National Forests and Grasslands?


No. Forest Service responsibilities extend across the United States from Alaska and Hawaii to the Caribbean and New England. National forests and grasslands are found in 44 states and Puerto Rico with offices in over 650 communities nationwide. We have established relationships in thousands of communities across the country and to be successful against invasive species will require us to work across all jurisdictions and land ownerships, including working with our international neighbors. In some parts of the country, National Forests and Grasslands are a major component of the landscape, yet in other areas they are small islands of public land in a sea of private land ownership.

What are the next steps when the Forest Service releases the National Strategy?


The National Strategy includes a set of priority actions for implementation across the agency. Some of those activities are the responsibility of the National Program offices to implement, others will be addressed at the regional or station level. One of the first steps will be to organize regional level invasive species issue teams consisting of representatives from different disciplines and programs. In the case of the National Forest System invasive species program, key next steps include developing a national policy for invasive species management, improving the budget formulation structure for the program, completing the development of invasive species information systems and data management applications, and increasing our activities to market and expand our partnerships at the local, state, and national levels.

Will the Forest Service use the National Strategy to justify funding increases against invasive species?


Yes. Defining a strong and productive program is a critical to any successful budget formulation and execution process. Invasive species impacts will outpace management activities without increased funding to slow the spread and take back infested ecosystems. As the Forest Service increases its emphasis, financially and physically, the National Strategy will guide our activities and be used to justify additional emphasis to address new priorities and emerging issues.

Last modified: Tuesday, 11-Mar-2014 10:55:50 CDT