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The Nature Conservancy Supports New USDA Rules

Major Revisions to Imports May Reduce Cost of Invasive Species


LANSING, MICHIGAN | October 20, 2009 Non-native invasive plants, pests and pathogens are costing our state millions of dollars each year in prevention, control and lost revenues. The USDA has proposed new rules to govern imported plants that would help cut off one of the major pathways for these non-native invaders. The Nature Conservancy supports the new rules, as they would help prevent new invasive foreign plants, pests and pathogens from entering our nation and damaging our forests, prairies, lakes, streams and wetlands. “More than 500 million plants are imported each year, overwhelming inspection procedures,” said Dr. Patrick Doran, director of science in Michigan for The Nature Conservancy. “New pest introductions are detected at a rate of one every 12 days. These new pests are in addition to the more than 400 non-native insects and plant diseases already permanently established here.” According to Doran, improving the inspection process is a priority for the Conservancy because invasive foreign plants and pests threaten the nation’s natural habitats, preserves, farms and they threaten forests by making them less resilient to climate change. The proposed USDA rules represent the first comprehensive revision to the nation’s plant import controls in more than 50 years. If passed, these rules would create a new category, under which the USDA would effectively ban import of some problem plants until they are proven safe. The public comment period closes tomorrow, October 21. “It is essential that those entities and individuals concerned about invasive species act now,” Doran said. “It’s important that we provide USDA strong backing for moving forward with this important revision. The Conservancy feels the proposed regulations are an important step in the right direction to help prevent new invasive species from attacking our forests.” To comment online, visit www.regulations.gov, select "proposed rules" on document type and enter "nappra" under keyword and hit search. At next page scroll down and click on "submit comment." For more information about the threat of invasive plants in the Midwest, visit www.mipn.org, and the Michigan DNR Forest Health Program has information on forest pests and pathogens: http://michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-30301_30505_30830---,00.html. The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

Contact information

Melissa Soule
(517) 316-2268
msoule@tnc.org

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