Support Adequate Funding for APHIS Tree-Pest Programs

 

Congress is now considering funding for various agencies and programs for Fiscal Year 2018 – which begins on October 1. Please contact your Representative and Senators and urge them to support adequate funding for key programs managed by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). These are essential for keeping the nation’s forests healthy by preventing introduction and spread of invasive pests. While I would much prefer to increase funding for these programs, that is impossible at this time. So I suggest that you support maintaining last year’s  funding levels for two  budget“lines” under the USDA APHIS Plant Health program: $54 million for the “Tree and Wood Pests” line and $156 million for the “Specialty Crops” line.

 

I have blogged often about the impacts of non-native insects and pathogens inthe United States — which are enormous. (See Lovett et al. 2016 for a summery.)  As new pests are introduced and established pests spread, these costs will only continue to rise.

 

Moreover, since 1975, U.S. imports (excluding petroleum products) have risen almost six times faster than APHIS and Customs and Border Protection’s staff capability to inspect  them. As a result of this and other prevention failures, such as insufficiently protective regulations, more than a dozen new plant pests are detected in the United States each year. Since the beginning of the 21st Century, at least 20 woodboring beetles have been detected here, including:

  • Redbay ambrosia beetle / laurel wilt disease;
  • Sirex woodwasp;
  • Goldspotted oak borer;
  • Walnut twig beetle and thousand cankers disease ;
  • Soapberry borer;
  • Polyphagous & Kuroshio shot hole borers; and
  • Velvet longhorned beetle.

 

Another dozen tree-killing pests that are not wood borers have also been detected, including Spotted lanternfly.

 

 

APHIS Programs Target only a Few of the Damaging Pests in the Country

 

At least in part because of inadequate funding, APHIS currently funds comprehensive programs targeting only four of the  dozens of already- or potentially-serious tree-killing pests already in the country: gyspy moth (both European and Asian); Asian longhorned beetle; emerald ash borer; and sudden oak death.

 

APHIS also provides limited assistance to programs on  other pests through grants  under the Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill. One example is research to determine host ranges and possible control method for the polyphagous and Kuroshio shot hole borers. However, these funds have not been sufficient to support comprehensive suppression or eradication programs despite the threat posed by these two shot-hole borers. They threaten to kill 26 million trees – more than a third of the trees growing in urban areas in California’s Inland Empire, Coastal Southern California, and Southwest Desert. Absent an active APHIS program to develop effective control measures, the municipalities and homeowners of these regions will be forced to absorb an estimated $36.2 billion (the costs of removing and replacing dead and dying trees) if they want to maintain valuable urban forest canopy.

willow killed by Kuroshio shot hole borer

in Tijuana River estuary, California

photo by John Boland

The shot-hole borers might also threaten trees across the American South. Box elder, sweetgum, and tree of heaven are reproductive hosts for the polyphagous shot hole borer; all are widespread in southern forests. California species of sycamore, oak, and willow are also reproductive hosts; other trees in these genera, which grow widely across the U.S., might also be vulnerable to the shot hole borers.

 

APHIS also has devoted Section 10007 funds to the spotted lanternfly, which is found in southeastern Pennsylvania. This insect feeds on several crop trees as well as oak, walnut, poplar, and pine trees. Pennsylvania authorities cannot complete eradication of this pest without additional federal funding – which so far is uncertain.

 

APHIS has helped with trace-forwards to find furniture infested by the velvet longhorned beetle, but has not adopted a program targetting this species in the several states where it appears to be established.

 

As these examples illustrate, even maintaining current funding levels means that several damaging non-native insects and pathogens continue to spread without a meaningful federal response. Any cuts would only exacerbate the failure of APHIS’ program to protect our forests from non-native insects and pathogens.

 

Remember, too, that additional introductions are likely in coming years. According to one study, perhaps 35 shipping containers entering the country each day carry damaging pests.

Unloading largest container ship to visit a U.S. East Coast port – “Cosco Development”; Savannah, GA  May 12, 2017; F.T. Campbell

At the same time, we cannot afford for APHIS to reduce its ongoing programs in order to address the other invaders. The  Asian longhorned beetle eradication program, at a cost of $35 – $40 million per year, has succeeded in eradicating 85% of the infestation in New York. (APHIS has just announced that a section of the borough of Queens is free of ALB.) However, the infestations in Massachusetts and Ohio still threaten to spread further into the forests. The $5 – $6 million per year allocated to the gypsy moth appears to be adequate, but APHIS must be prepared to eradicate any newly detected outbreaks, especially of the Asian gypsy moth on the west coast.

 

APHIS’ emerald ash borer program has received $7 million per year. To reduce future costs, the agency has cut back its regulatory program, so that it enforces regulations only at the infestation’s leading edge. In affected states, APHIS will continue surveys in unregulated areas, outreach, and coordination. These changes, taken together, undermine efforts to prevent the beetle’s spread to the vulnerable rural and urban forests in North Dakota, Oregon, and other states. APHIS is emphasizing production and dispersal of biocontrol agentsrather than regulatory measures

The sudden oak death program – targeting the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum — is under the “Specialty Crops” funding line. This must also be maintained at current levels because SOD threatens such important eastern forest tree species as northern red, chestnut, white, and pin oaks; sugar maple; and black walnut. APHIS regulates movement of nursery stock which could transport this pathogen from the West coast to vulnerable areas in the East. It was learned recently that APHIS needs to add the genus Magnolia to the “filthy five” group which is subject to the most careful regulation.

Whom to Contact

Please ask your Senators and Representative to support maintaining – or even increasing – funding for these APHIS programs. Your contact is especially important if you are represented by one of the members of the House or Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittees on

Agriculture:

House:

* Robert Aderholt, Alabama, Chairman

* Kevin Yoder, Kansas

* Tom Rooney, Florida

* David Valadao, California

* Andy Harris, Maryland

* David Young, Iowa

* Steven Palazzo, Mississippi

* Sanford Bishop, Georgia, Ranking Member

* Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut

* Chellie Pingree, Maine

* Mark Pocan, Wisconsin

 

Senate:

John Hoeven, North Dakota

Thad Cochran, Mississippi

Mitch McConnell, Kentucky

Susan Collins, Maine

Roy Blunt, Missouri

Jerry Moran, Kansas,

Marco Rubio, Florida

Jeff Merkley, Oregon

Diane Feinstein, California

Jon Tester, Montana

Tom Udall, New Mexico

Patrick Leahy, Vermont

Tammy Baldwin, Illinois

 

Sources

 

Lovett, G.M., M. Weiss, A.M. Liebhold, T.P. Holmes, B. Leung, K.F. Lambert, D.A. Orwig , F.T. Campbell, J. Rosenthal, D.G. McCullough, R. Wildova, M.P. Ayres, C.D. Canham, D.R. Foster, S.L. LaDeau, and T. Weldy. 2016. Nonnative forest insects and pathogens in the United States: Impacts and policy options. Ecological Applications, 0(0), 2016, pp. 1–19. DOI 10.1890/15-1176.1  available at

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1890/15-1176/full

 

Additional recent sources of information on tree-killing pests not being addressed by APHIS:

Article about the damage caused by the goldspotted oak borer:

http://westernipm.org/index.cfm/ipm-in-the-west/natural-areas/gold-spotted-oak-borer-threatens-oak-woodlands-and-ecosystems-across-southern-california/?keywords=GSOB

Videos:

GSOB at Irvine Regional Park in OC

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCRVmP5KmW0&feature=youtu.be

Goldspotted Oak Borer video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In2e5atd3ZY&feature=youtu.be#t=13.3989831

The Los Angeles Times has published two recent articles about the shot hole borers at

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-dying-urban-trees-20170403-story.html

and

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-trees-change-20170427-story.html

 

We welcome comments that supplement or correct factual information, suggest new approaches, or promote thoughtful consideration. We post comments that disagree with us — but not those we judge to be not civil or inflammatory.

 

Posted by Faith Campbell

 

CISP Starts Focus on Emerging Wildlife Diseases in Large Collaboration

 

A new CISP effort is underway: we are pleased to announce support for our work on emerging wildlife diseases. Funding for this collaborative effort was provided by the BAND Foundation, a charitable foundation whose mission includes conservation of wildlife and plant species and combatting wildlife diseases. The grant, managed by the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), will provide support through 2017 and 2018. The scope of the project is described in the following AFWA announcement. We will provide more information on the project as it develops.

 ————————————-

Washington D.C. (May 4, 2017) – The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is pleased to announce a partnership focused on fish and wildlife health, in collaboration with Bat Conservation International, the Amphibian Survival Alliance, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy, the Center for Invasive Species Prevention, and five universities in the United States.

 Disease is rapidly emerging as a major threat to wildlife globally. While wildlife diseases are not new, human actions are dramatically increasing their spread and impact. The partnership between the BAND Foundation and the Association will lead to more effective responses to emerging wildlife diseases.  Three specific emerging pathogens that affect bats (White-nose syndrome (WNS)), salamanders (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal)) and sea stars (Sea Star Wasting Disease (SSWD)) are of immediate concern in the United States. These families of animals play vital roles as ecosystem engineers across a range of habitats from agricultural landscapes to forests to intertidal zones. This project provides funding for critical research and monitoring to better understand the diseases that threaten them, aims to catalyze a public policy framework for tackling wildlife disease more broadly and strategically, and seeks to leverage additional dollars to address this critical issue.

 “State fish & wildlife agencies are on the front lines of wildlife disease prevention. This much needed funding will go a long way to prevent and prepare for disease outbreaks through the United States,” said Nick Wiley, President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.

A conference to bring together experts in science and management of various wildlife diseases will be convened in 2018, to help further identify needs and improve communication and responses.

at: file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/PR-%20AFWA%20Partners%20with%20the%20BAND%20Foundation.pdf .

 

Posted by Peter Jenkins

We welcome comments that supplement or correct factual information, suggest new approaches, or promote thoughtful consideration. We post comments that disagree with us — but not those we judge to be not civil or inflammatory.

 

 

Bill aimed at controlling invasive species on the ground advances

whitebark pine in Crater Lake National Park killed by white pine blister rust; photo by F.T. Campbell

In the first days of April, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee  adopted the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver Act (S. 826) (the WILD Act).

Title II of this legislation would amend the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act by inserting language very similar to the Federal Land Invasive Species Control, Prevention, and Management Act (S. 509).  I blogged last year about that  bill and a hearing about it here.

Our concerns at the time focused on:

  • The provision allowing invasive control projects to proceed without first being evaluated by an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment. Lack of careful analysis could expose the environment to additional damage. For example, use of herbicides or grazing to control invasive plants can lead to suppression of native forbs. Suppressing invasion by one set of plants – whatever the strategy used – often facilitates a secondary invasion.
  • The mandatory funding allocations – which severely limit funds available to support research, outreach, and strategic planning and coordination – could undercut activities crucial to development and implementation of effective strategies and management tools.
  • The mandatory goal of reducing invasive species populations by 5% per year is unrealistic.
  • New requirements on reporting and coordination might divert already-thin resources and delay needed action.
  • Priority-setting. Managing invasive species on national lands should reflect national goals and perspectives, not be set by states’ governors.

Caroline Murphy of The Wildlife Society and I have reviewed Title II of the new WILD Act and find that it differs from last year’s invasive species control bill in several important ways:

  • The bill now applies to a wider range of agencies. The Secretary of the Army (who supervises the Corps of Engineers) is included explicitly; he joins the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture (as supervisor of the Forest Service). In addition, the bill also applies to the head of “any federal agency” having duties related to planning or treatment of invasive species “for the purpose of protecting water and wildlife on land and in water.”
  • Most important, projects are no longer granted a “Categorical Exclusion” from preparing environmental impact analyses. Instead, under an “Expedited Action” provision, the Secretaries are instructed to use all existing legal tools and flexibilities to expedite projects and activities.
  • The bill still requires that 75% of invasive species funds be allocated to “on-the-ground control and management of invasive species.” But such activity now may include “the use of appropriate methods to remove invasive species from a vehicle or vessel capable of conveyance.” I wish the language also included efforts to prevent invasive species from being present in or on the vehicle or vessel.
  • The bill has dropped the requirement that invasive species’ populations be reduced by 5% annually. The bill now requires the Secretaries to develop a strategic plan “to achieve, to the maximum extent practicable, a substantive annual net reduction of invasive species populations or infested acreage on land or water” that the Secretary manages. It is still not clear whether that reduction should apply to some or all of the invasive species there.

I am still concerned that

  • Projects are to use least-cost methods. This requirement is likely to favor reliance on chemical controls, which could have significant non-target impacts and might not provide lasting control. This incentive might be counter-balanced by the requirement that the methods be effective, based on sound scientific data. However, the bill’s focus on measuring annual results rather than long-term efficacy will add to pressures to rely on short-term approaches that could undermine long-term effectiveness.
  • Leadership of the projects – especially setting priorities – will be in hands of state governments, not the federal agencies which have the responsibility under federal law to manage the lands and waters that are to be protected. A partial counter-balance is the requirement that the appropriate federal agency Secretary determine which lands or waters need immediate action to address the invasive species risk.  Furthermore, the expedited actions are to be carried out in accordance with agency procedures, including any applicable land or resource management plan

I welcome the requirement that the Secretaries, in developing their strategic plans, must take into consideration the ecological as well as the economic costs of acting or not acting.

As before, the projects are to be carried out through collaboration with wide range of partners, including private individuals and entities – apparently including non-governmental organizations such as state or local invasive plant coalitions.

The rest of the WILD Act would reauthorize the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, some Multinational Species Conservation Fund Programs, and create several conservation-related competitive grant programs to be managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, one of which is for the management of invasive species.

Now that these provisions are incorporated into a wider bill, and Senator Barasso is chairman of the full committee, adoption of some version of this legislation now seems more likely than I thought last year.  Apparently there is still no action in House on the parallel bill.

While I am heartened by some of the changes in the bill since last year, I continue to think that America’s public lands would be better protected by a more comprehensive approach that includes prevention, mapping, early detection, research, prioritization, coordination and outreach aimed at engaging key stakeholders.  Such an approach was outlined in a document developed a couple of years ago by the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS) – available here.

Posted by Faith Campbell

We welcome comments that supplement or correct factual information, suggest new approaches, or promote thoughtful consideration. We post comments that disagree with us — but not those we judge to be not civil or inflammatory.

Injurious species ruling could lead to more invasions​

 

CISP and I are mentioned in this Newsweek article of April 12 ​about a court ruling that undercut ​ ​the past 28 years of the ​U.S. ​Fish and Wildlife Service’s ​(FWS)​ program of regulating “injurious species” under the Lacey Act at the level of interstate transportation within the 49 continental States.

​​

Dr. Skip Snow, National Park Service Herpetologist, Everglades National Park, examines python captured in the Park; NPS photo

LANDMARK CASE PAVES WAY FOR ANIMALS LIKE PYTHONS TO BE TRADED IN U.S.

​http://www.newsweek.com/landmark-case-paves-way-animals-pythons-be-legally-traded-us-583137 ​
What happened? In 201​3​, in ​DC ​District Court, the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) brought a suit that, among other arguments, claimed ​the Government (the ​USFWS), lacked statutory authority under the Lacey Act to regulate interstate commerce in large constrictor snakes among the 49 continental States​. The DC District Court agreed and that issue was ​prompt​ly appealed to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals​. Its ​April 7th ​opinion frames the issue like this (pp. 2-3):​

   

When a species is designated as injurious, the Act prohibits any importation of the species into the United States or its ​p​ossessions or territories. 18 U.S.C. § 42(a)(1). The Act additionally bars “any shipment” of the species“ ​​between the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any possession of the United States.” Id.

​    ​

This case concerns the proper interpretation of the latter provision, which we will refer to as the shipment clause. All agree that the clause bars shipments of injurious species between each of the listed jurisdictions—for instance, shipments of animals between “Hawaii” and “the continental United States,” or between “the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico” and a “possession of the United States.” But what about ​shipments between the states making up “the continental United States”—for instance, shipments between Virginia and Maryland? Does the clause prohibit those shipments as well?​

 

The Court ​of Appeals ​answered the last question with a convincing “no”.​ 

 

It is important to note the effect is only on ​interstate commerce (“​IC ​”)​ among the 49 States and it does not change the FWS’ authority to regulate commerce between those named locations, that is, ​Hawaii, DC, PR, the possessions and the 49 States considered as one block​.  Also, the ruling does not ​at all ​affect the FWS’ authority to regulate imports of injurious species from other nations.

 

Was it unexpected? No. The USARK attorneys did outstanding legal work in revealing the early Legislative history ​ of the 1960 Lacey amendments at issue​ and the fact that,​ from 1960 through 1989, the FWS itself interpreted the statute not to allow it to regulate IC. The FWS only began regulating IC in its ​Lacey ​injurious species listings ​in​ about 1989, but it has continued to do that in every listing since 1989, ​under the last 5 Presidential administrations. The long delay in the Court challenge was largely due to lack of enough economic incentive for a regulated industry to bring a lawsuit to challenge ​the FWS changed approach​. It was not until USARK was motivated to raise a vast amount of contributions from its members to pays it large legal fees that a challenge was organized.

 

How broad is the ruling? Sweeping. It is n​either​ limited to the parties in th​e​ case ​n​or ​to the ​snakes involved. The opinion makes clear that the correct legal interpretation by the FWS from now on must be not to regulate IC among the continental 49 States, with this statement on p. 22:

 

   we …. hold as a matter of law that the government lacks authority under the shipment clause to prohibit shipments of injurious species between the continental States.     

 

Will there be more proceedings in the District Court? Likely yes, as USARK had brought other legal arguments claiming that the entire listings of their snakes (including regulation of foreign imports too) was illegal. Now that the pressing issue of the IC restriction ​for injurious species under the Lacey Act ​has been resolved, USARK can still make those arguments back in the District Court. My judgment ​as an attorney ​is those were all weak arguments and ultimately the listing of the snakes and trade restrictions will be upheld as legal by the Courts as far as ​regulating ​foreign imports and the commerce among the listed locations.

 

Is the ruling disallowing IC restrictions likely to have more appeals? No. It is theoretically possible that the Government could seek review from the Supreme Court, but doubtful that the Government will do that or that the Supreme Court would take the case.  Both the District Court Judge and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals (3 Judges) wrote very well-reasoned opinions, and there is no dissenting opinion or conflicting decision from any other Court. Given those circumstances, it is not the sort of case the Supreme Court would take, so the DC Circuit’s opinion should be considered the final word unless Congress changes the law.

 

When does it take effect? Immediately​, unless it is somehow blocked​. While the appeal was from a preliminary injunction, the ruling need not go back to the District Court now as far as the IC issue – that is decided as a matter of law. As the opinion pointed out ​(​pp. 7-8​)​​:​

 

      We reach a definitive judgment on the shipment clause’s meaning in order to “save the parties the expense of future l​itigation​”.​

     ​

What is the effect on existing Lacey Act injurious species listings? All existing injurious species listing regulations that claim to regulate IC must from now on be interpreted not to regulate IC. The FWS may re-issue some new listing regulations to make its lack of authority more clear, but even if the FWS delays in doing that the language in those regulations on regulating IC is now a nullity, that is, ​that language​  should be treated as if it does not exist.

 

It should be noted that ​ for​ the ​now​ 2​8​ different injurious species listing ​ decisions​ (some of which take in large numbers of species ​ totaling ~ 300 or up to ~700 species if the disease regulations are included​) th​e​ impact of this listing will vary greatly.  ​In reality​ only ​5 or 6​listings are significantly harmed ​now ​by the ruling. Most of the Lacey species listed are not in the US yet, ​e.g., Racoon dog, ​so the elimination of the IC restriction will have no effect currently and the continuing regulation of ​importation is all that is needed ​, unless the species does appear somewhere within the ​49 continental States​.

One ​listed species​, zebra mussel, ​is so widespread in the US ​already ​and/or ​its​ movement is generally unintentional s​o​ that the IC restriction has ​generally​ been unenforceable as a practical matter ​ (with some ​important ​exceptions to that)​.

 

One listing — the “all-salmonids pathogens” listing — was by its terms limited to regulating foreign imports and not IC, so it was not affected ​at all ​by the ruling.

 

But, for ​the ​listings ​​of​ the large constrictor snakes, the ​4 ​Asian carps​,​ the Northern snakehead​ and some others​, the Court ruling eliminating IC regulation will greatly weaken Federal control over the ​many ​species ​ within those listings​. ​Several​ of them are already fairly widespread ​in the country ​with captive and/or wild breeding populations to draw stock from. So ​just ​regulating their foreign importation is almost meaningless –  it is IC that is their most important risk. So​,​ we are more likely to see more invasions ​by those species i​n more States due to more ​unregulated ​IC unless that legal gap is filled.

 

Bsal regulation effect:​ The Bsal-prevention salamander ​foreign import ​regulation has been successful in keeping the Bsal pathogen out of the US (it appears​,​ based on monitoring so far), but the IC restriction had provided​ important ​insurance​ in the event that the pathogen is ​in fact ​here but just has yet to be detected. Or if the pathogen were to arrive, the IC restrictions would ​have ​facilitate​d​ a stronger preventative response, ​blocking or ​slowing spread from one State to another. ​Now, ​if the pathogen arrives with ​no IC restrictions in place, interstate trade in ​infected ​salamanders could rapidly spread a potentially devastating, nationwide, ​Bsal outbreak.

 

What is the effect on existing permits for interstate movement of listed species? To the extent the permits relate to foreign imports or movements between Hawaii, DC, ​PR, ​the ​possessions/​

territories or the continental States  considered as a whole​, the permit system is still in effect. As far as permits ​for movements ​within the continental 49 States, it should be expected that the FWS will modify their terms. Until the FWS does that or provides clarification​,​ the permit holders should ​follow​ the terms of their permits.

 

What might Congress do in response? Congress could pass a law filling the gap and returning ​the ​FWS IC regulation ​program ​to the status quo that has exist​ed​ since 1989. Such a law could be quite narrow, targeting only the IC gap, or it could be broader, including an IC gap fix within a broader new law. Or Congress could take no action, leaving the effect of the Court ruling in place.

 

What might State fish and wildlife agencies do in response? Unless it appears that Congress will fill the IC gap quickly, then concerned States may wish to promptly ​adopt ​their own new laws ​/regulations​ restricting commerce into their States of the species involved. This seems ​the ​highest priority for the States most at risk from the species whose IC has been most liberalized by the ruling, that is, the large constrictor snakes, the ​4​ Asian carps​,​ the Northern snakehead and ​the ​salamanders that the FWS listed as potentially carrying Bsal. (Some States already may have such restrictions on the books.)

 

​ Note that Hawaii is well-protected as a specially-designated State and need take no action, as is also true for DC, PR and the territories.​

 

It is too soon to know what the policy responses may be, but the FWS, State agencies and stakeholders likely are evaluating options now. ​

 

We welcome comments that supplement or correct factual information, suggest new approaches, or promote thoughtful consideration. We post comments that disagree with us — but not those we judge to be not civil or inflammatory.

​Posted by Peter Jenkins

 

USDA needs to utilize the NAPPRA Process to Prevent New Introductions

 

 

America’s imports of plants to serve various purposes have been a major pathway for introduction of invasive species – both some of the plant species imported intentionally and insects and pathogens associated with those plant imports.

Examples of the former include numerous forage grasses, Callery pear (just past its peak bloom here in the MidAtlantic region), autumn and Russian olive, kudzu, shrub and vining euonymus, iceplant, … [see my blogs from January 2016  and March 2016 for more about invasive plants].

Pests introduced on imported plants range from chestnut blight and white pine blister rust at the beginning of the 20th Century to sudden oak death in the 1980s and probably the polyphagous and Kuroshio shot hole borers more recently. All these pests are described briefly here.

For lengthy discussions of the “plants for planting” pathway of introduction for insects and pathogens, read my report Fading Forests III available here; or the Liebhold et al. article referenced at the end of this blog.

A new article by Barry Yeoman describes the effects on wildlife species of these introductions. “Going Native: Exotic garden plants can wreak unexpected havoc with indigenous species and ecosystems” can be read here .

dogwood anthracnose; Robert L. Anderson. courtesy of bugwood.org

Yeoman notes that birds and other wildlife that feed on the fruits of native dogwood can’t utilize the fruits of the introduced kousa dogwood. Furthermore, native dogwoods have been decimated by dogwood anthracnose  – probably introduced on imports of kousa dogwood! Another pest example cited by Yeoman is the loss of eastern hemlock to hemlock woolly adelgid.

Yeoman goes on to report the impacts on wildlife species of such invasive plant species as Japanese knotweed, autumn olive, Chinese tallowtree, and Japanese barberry. The last is even linked to higher populations of the ticks that spread Lyme disease.

Yeoman writes that the United States has “a feeble system of regulating garden imports. Each new species is presumed harmless until proven otherwise—and by the time a verdict arrives, the harm is often beyond repair.”  He criticizes our government’s reliance on a modified blacklist system – a short list of “noxious weeds” .  This approach allows potential invaders to enter the country without scientific evaluation.

 

As Yeoman describes in the article, the noxious weed list is supplemented by a small “graylist” of plant species that could potentially cause harm and are temporarily barred until they can be evaluated. Yeoman does not describe the program under which this “graylist” has been created. In May 2011, USDA APHIS  created a temporary holding category, called “Not Authorized (for importation) Pending Pest Risk Analysis,” or NAPPRA. With this authority, APHIS may temporarily prohibit import of certain types of plants, from specific countries of origin, that it considers to pose a particular risk. The risk might be invasiveness of the plant species itself, or pests associated with the plants. The temporary prohibition on imports of those species gives APHIS time to complete a pest risk analysis and then enact appropriate safeguards to ensure that the imported plants will not be invasive or present as low a pest risk as possible.

 

For a more complete description of the graylist process, called NAPPRA, read Fading Forests III here .

 

The NAPPRA process holds the promise of providing substantial protection by curtailing imports of high-risk plants.  However, its implementation has stalled. APHIS last proposed additions to the list of plant species prohibited entry temporarily in May 2013 – almost four years ago!  APHIS should revive the NAPPRA process and utilize prompt listing of plants under this authority to minimize the risk that new pests will be introduced.

 

Sources

Liebhold, A.M., E.G. Brockerhoff, L.J. Garrett, J.L. Parke, and K.O. Britton. 2012. Live Plant Imports: the Major Pathway for Forest Insect and Pathogen Invasions of the US. www.frontiersinecology.org

 

We welcome comments that supplement or correct factual information, suggest new approaches, or promote thoughtful consideration. We post comments that disagree with us — but not those we judge to be not civil or inflammatory.

 

Posted by Faith Campbell

Pest threat to West Coast confirmed – authorities should respond to this information by taking protective measures

 Numbers of non-native pests in counties of the 49 continental states; Map prepared by Andrew Liebhold, USFS in 2014. More recent introductions are not represented; nor are insects native to some part of North America

Currently, the Northeast and Midwest have the highest number of non-native, tree-killing insect and pathogen species (see map above). However, Pacific coast states have two-thirds the numbers of pest species of the Northeast – and are catching up. Two articles modeling the likelihood of new pest introductions point to the particular vulnerability of the Pacific Coast states – especially California – to pest introductions from Asia.

 

Koch et al. 2011 (see reference at the end of the blog) utilized various sources of information about volumes of imports likely to be associated with wood-boring pests — stone; raw wood and wood products (including crates & pallets); metals; non-metallic minerals; auto parts; etc. From this, the authors estimated both a nationwide establishment rate of wood-boring forest insect species and the likelihood that such insects might establish at more than 3,000 urban areas in the contiguous U.S. While their estimate was based on 2010 imports, they also projected rates for 2020.

 

See my blog from March 10  for various scientists’ estimates of  the overall, nationwide rate of introduction.  Koch et al. estimated the nation-wide introduction rate at between 0.6 and 1.89 forest insects and pathogen species per year for the period 2001–2010 and 0.36 and 1.7 species per year for 2011–2020.  In other words, we should expect a new alien forest insect species to become established somewhere in the United States every 2–3 years. If one-tenth of these new introductions turn out to cause significant damage, then we can expect a “significant” new forest pest every 5–6 years.

 

Pacific coast states – especially California – are at highest risk. 

Koch et al. evaluated the introduction risk for 3,126 urban areas across the country. The metropolitan area with the highest risk is Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana, California. For both 2010 and 2020, the predicted rates for a new pest establishing there is every 4–5 years.

 

Looking ahead to 2020, the situation worsens for three California metro areas – Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana; San Diego; and Riverside-San Bernardino. At San Francisco-Oakland, the predicted establishment rates remain steady. Most of the rest of the top 25 urban areas show decreases in establishment rate between 2010 and 2020.

 

This rising risk to California urban areas is driven by the growth of imports from Asia. For the four California urban areas, the establishment rate of Asian species is projected to increase 6–8% between 2010 and 2020. The Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana area could potentially expect the establishment of an alien forest insect species originating specifically from Asia alone (not the entire world) every 4–5 years.

[The polyphagous and Kuroshio shot hole borers are examples of recently introduced pests from Asia.  Both are described, inter alia, here; a distribution map for PSHB is available here.]

Koch et al. note that the Los Angeles metropolitan area has a dense human population with corresponding high demand for goods and materials, so a substantial proportion of imports clearing the port remains in the areas.  Furthermore, widespread planting of non-native plants provides a range of potential hosts that can support invaders that would not otherwise become successfully established.

 

A second source also indicates a heightened risk to Pacific Coast states. Yemshanof et al. used similar modeling techniques to evaluate the risk of tree pest introductions to Canada … and to the U.S. in the form of transshipped goods.  (See my earlier blog.)

 

The Yemshanof et al. model showed that 8% of all forest pests introduced to the U.S. on imported wood or wood packaging — as estimated by Koch et al. — would come through goods transshipped through Canada. The risk is highest to the Pacific Coast states since they are the most likely to receive Asian goods transiting through Canada.

 

Note that the phytosanitary agencies in both the U.S. and Canada proposed in 2010 that wood packaging originating in one of the countries and shipped to the other be required to meet the international regulations under ISPM#15. However, APHIS was unable to adopt this regulation under the Obama Administration, and such an action seems even less likely under the Trump Administration. Canada is unlikely to adopt the new rules without a coordinated U.S. action.

 

Southern California also imports lots of plants – another pathway for pest introductions.

 

Koch et al. suggest that authorities use these models to prioritize border control efforts (e.g., commodity inspections), post-border surveillance, and rapid-response measures.  I see some problems with these suggestions.  First, enhanced commodity inspections are not likely to measurably diminish the risk of introduction to the region. Second, rapid-response measures require both increased funds – which are expected to decrease; and political will. I have blogged several times about California’s decisions to not implement official, regulatory responses to recently detected pests.

 

Instead, people in the region should actively build alliances and press their regional political leaders – governors, mayors, senators, members of Congress – to demand that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Congress adopt policies that will strengthen protection for the region’s trees.

 

New pest detected in California!

 

California authorities have detected a new woodboring beetle – the olive wood borer (Phloeotribus scarabaeoides). It was detected in an olive tree in a grape vineyard in Riverside County. This is the first detection of the species in the Western Hemisphere. Known or suspected hosts include several trees in the olive family (Oleaceae), including olive trees, privet, ash, and common lilac; as well as oleander (Apocynaceae).

 

Since this new pest is native to the Mediterranean region, it does not appear to be an example of the risk to California from Asia …  The source (Diagnostic Network News; see below) does not speculate on the pathway by which the introduction occurred.

 

 

What Can We Do?

 

Ask your state’s Governor to

  • Communicate to the USDA Secretary the need to amend policies & regulations

(Coordinate this effort with governors of other states.)

  • Put forest pest issue on the agenda of National Governors’ Association
  • Ask your state’s Congressional delegation to pressure USDA Secretary to amend policies and regulations
  • Communicate concern about these pests to the media — and propose solutions.

 

Ask your state’s agricultural and forestry agency heads to

  • Ask their national associations to support proposals to USDA Secretary & Congress. These associations include
    • National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA)
    • National Association of State Foresters (NASF) or its Western regional group, the Council of Western State Foresters
  • Communicate to the media both the agency’s concern about tree pest threats and proposed solutions.

 

We can also act directly.

  • Ask mayors and officials of affected towns and counties to
  • Push proposals at regional or National Conference of Mayors or National Association of Counties
  • Instruct local forestry staff to seek support of local citizen tree care associations, regional and national associations of arborists, Arbor Day & “Tree City” organizations, Sustainable Urban Forest Coalition, etc.
  • Reach out to local media with a message that includes descriptions of policy actions intended to protect trees — not just damage caused by the pests
  • Ask stakeholder organizations of which you are a member to speak up on the issue and support proposed solutions; e.g.,
    • Professional/scientific associations
    • Wood products industry
    • Forest landowners
    • Environmental NGOs
    • Urban tree advocacy & support organizations

 

  • Encourage like-minded colleagues in other states to press the agenda with their state & federal political players, agencies, & media.
  • Communicate to the media both your concern about tree pest threats and proposed solutions.

 

What Specific Actions Should We Suggest be Taken?

I suggest a coordinated package.  However, you might feel more comfortable selecting a few to address each time you communicate with a policymaker. Choose those on which you have the most expertise; or that you think will have the greatest impact.

  • Make specific proposals, not vague ideas (see below for suggestions)
  • Always include information about how the pests arrive/spread (pathways such as imports of crates & pallets, or woody plants for ornamental horticulture) and what we can do to clean up those pathways  (Don’t just describe the “freak of the week”)
  • Always point out that the burden of pest-related losses and costs falls on ordinary people and their communities. (Aukema et al. 2011 provides backup for this at the national level; try to get information about your state or city.)
  • We need to restore a sense of crisis to prompt action – but not leave people feeling helpless! We need also to bolster understanding that we have been and can again be successful in combatting tree pests.

 

Specific actions that will reduce risk that pests pose to our trees:

  • Importers switch from packaging made from solid wood (e.g., boards and 4”x4”s) to packaging made from other materials, e.g., particle boards, plastic, metal …
  • Persuade APHIS to initiate a rulemaking to require importers to make the shift. This can be done – although international trade agreements require preparation of a risk assessment that justifies the action because it addresses an identified risk (see my earlier blogs about wood packaging).
  • Create voluntary certification programs and persuade major importers to join them. One option is to incorporate non-wood packaging into the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) existing Customs-Trade Partnership Against terrorism (C-TPAT) program.

 

  • Tighten enforcement by penalizing shipments in packaging that does not comply with the current regulations
  • Persuade CBP and/or USDA to end current policy under which no financial penalty is imposed until a specific importer has been caught five times in a single year with non-compliant wood packaging. APHIS has plenty of authority to penalize violators under the Plant Protection Act [U.S.C. §7734 (b) (1)].
  • Restrict imports of woody plants that are more likely to transport pests that threaten our trees
  • In 2011, APHIS adopted regulations giving it the power to temporarily prohibit importation of designated high-risk plants until the agency has carried out a risk assessment and implemented stronger phytosanitary measures to address those risks. Plants deserving such additional scrutiny can be declared “not authorized for importation pending pest risk assessment,” or “NAPPRA”. A list of plants posing a heightened risk was proposed nearly 4 years ago, but it has not been finalized – so imports continue. APHIS should revive the NAPPRA process and utilize prompt listing of plants under this authority to minimize the risk that new pests will be introduced.
  • APHIS should finalize amendments to the “Q-37” regulation (proposed nearly 4 years ago) that would establish APHIS’ authority to require foreign suppliers to implement integrated programs to minimize pest risk. Once this regulation is finalized, APHIS could begin negotiating agreements with individual countries to adopt systems intended to ensure pest-free status of those plant types, species, and origins currently considered to pose a medium to high risk.

 

  • Strengthen early detection/rapid response programs by
  • Providing adequate funds to federal & state detection and rapid response programs. The funds must be available for the length of the eradication program – often a decade or more.
  • Better coordinate APHIS, USFS, state, & tribal surveillance programs.
  • Engage tree professionals & citizen scientists more effectively in surveillance programs.

 

 

SOURCES

 

Koch, F.H., D. Yemshanov, M. Colunga-Garcia, R.D. Magarey, W.D. Smith. Potential establishment of alien-invasive forest insect species in the United States: where and how many? Biol Invasions (2011) 13:969–985

 

Western Plant Diagnostic Network First Detector News. Winter 2017. Volume 10, Number 1.

 

Yemshanov, D., F.H. Koch, M. Ducey, K. Koehler. 2012.  Trade-associated pathways of alien forest insect entries in Canada. Biol Invasions (2012) 14:797–812

 

We welcome comments that supplement or correct factual information, suggest new approaches, or promote thoughtful consideration. We post comments that disagree with us — but not those we judge to be not civil or inflammatory.

Posted by Faith Campbell

Likely Next Secretary of Agriculture Not Asked About Phytosanitary Issues on March 23, 2017

Secretary of Agriculture nominee Sonny Perdue

Former Governor of Georgia Sonny Perdue was President Trump’s last pick for his cabinet. His long-delayed confirmation hearing took place before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on March 23, with at least 18 of the 21 members present for at least some of the time. He’s likely to be confirmed easily, given support from 700 agricultural organizations and six former USDA secretaries. However, final approval could take several weeks, given the time needed to answer senators’ follow-up written questions and a looming congressional recess.

In his opening statement, the nominee named four goals: creating jobs, making customer service a priority, keeping food safe for consumers, and ensuring stewardship of American lands. (Mr. Perdue’s statement and video of the full hearing are on the Committee’s website.)

 

The hearing was friendly – except to the President’s proposed budget, which calls for a 21 percent cut in USDA’s discretionary spending. Ranking Minority Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said the budget makes it clear that “rural America is an afterthought.” But Chair Pat Roberts (R-KS) and others noted that “the President proposes and Congress disposes,” with a nod down the table to Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee’s agriculture subcommittee. Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) — each with considerable seniority — serve on the same subcommittee.

 

Phytosanitary policy did not come up — although CISP and others provided lists of potential questions on the topic to several senators. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) did ask how to stop the spread of avian influenza, detected in Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Alabama. Gov. Perdue seemed confident, saying U.S. poultry exports are critical and we’d learned to respond quickly. (Four days later the disease was detected in chickens in Georgia.)

 

Few USDA agencies were mentioned by name. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was among those not mentioned. In response to questions, Gov. Perdue did voice support for “critical” research and extension done by the Natural Resource Conservation Service and said, in defense of the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS), that farmers need “independent, trusted sources” of information. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) asked about the potential of pathogen-laden meat imports from Brazil. Perdue noted that the Food Safety and Inspection Service “wants to go to” 100% inspection (a policy announced March 22) but a beef embargo would risk retaliation.

 

Mostly, specific programs were named only if they were targeted by the President for cuts (like NASS). Efforts to clean up agricultural runoff that pollutes the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes; work to stem rural opioid addiction; and initiatives for rural clean water all fall into this group.

 

Only the U.S. Forest Service received more than passing attention. Its management of national forests was criticized. Several senators noted the crisis in funding fire-fighting. Forests, Gov. Perdue said, provide “opportunities clothed in challenges,” e.g., to implement best management practices and be better neighbors. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) urged him to restore active management of forests, as well as to limit litigation by “extremist groups.” Perdue sympathized.

Several themes came up repeatedly:

 

  • The importance of foreign trade. Chair Roberts wants agriculture at the top of priorities for the new White House National Trade Council. Gov. Perdue has already met with the U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce and aims to “sell [the country’s] bounty” in expanding markets.

 

  • The need for the secretary to be an unapologetic advocate for agriculture within the Administration. Gov. Perdue promised to be a “tireless salesman.” Hope that Perdue would support ideas proposed for the 2018 Farm Bill. These include expanding crop insurance for growers of specialty crops and the dairy industry; ensuring immigration/visa policy that supports year-round access to labor for dairy farms; providing summer nutrition programs for students.

 

  • Changing regulations that were called, variously, costly, hard-to-understand, or very onerous. As secretary, Perdue would “incentivize producers” to conserve without “onerous prescriptive regulations” (like those on wetlands; he has met with the new EPA Administrator).

 

  • Members’ requests that he visit their states — in some cases for public meetings on the new Farm Bill.

 

Generally, Mr. Perdue was agreeable — e.g., toward a stronger renewable fuel standard and better rural broadband access — or at least found Members’ suggestions “intriguing”. He promised to provide resources to help with the new farm bill and to further implement the 2014 one, either more fully (as Sen. Klobuchar requested) or more flexibly (as Sen. Thune did). Gov. Perdue confessed “some concern” about proposed budget cuts, for example, to agricultural research, organic agriculture, telemedicine, and nutrition programs — a list supplied by Sen. Stabenow. He cited his experience working within tight budgets in Georgia, though, and expects to do the same at USDA. He said that he was a “facts-based, data-based decision-maker.”

 

Gov. Perdue grew up on a dairy farm, is a veterinarian, and runs several agribusinesses. The latter got him in trouble, as Georgia governor, with the state’s ethics commission. He has agreed to put his businesses in trust if confirmed. These concerns did not come up in the hearing. Nor did his controversial views on climate change, although Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) noted the connection between fire and climate change and said climate change must be addressed. One person was ejected from the hearing after protesting animal agriculture.

 

Present:

Chair Roberts (R-KS); Cochran (R-MS); Boozman (R-AK); Hoeven (R-ND); Ernst (R-IA); Thune (R-SD); Daines (R-MT); Perdue (R-GA – the nominee’s cousin); Strange (R-AL).

Ranking Member Stabenow (D-MI); Leahy (D-VT); Klobuchar (D-MN); Brown (D-OH); Bennet (D-CO); Gillibrand (D-NY); Donnelly (D-IN); Heitkamp (D-ND); Van Hollen (D-MD).

 

Our comment:

 

We are disappointed that no one asked a single question about introduced pests or weeds. Nine of the senators present are from states already suffering severe tree mortality caused by the emerald ash borer; four more are from states that will soon see significant losses to that pest. All are from states in which invasive plants are often said to threaten agricultural production and/or natural resources.

Perhaps some questions will be put to Mr. Perdue in writing.

 

The combination of silence on phytosanitary issues and emphasis on the importance of trade seems to promise a continuation of imbalances that favor trade promotion at the expense of vigorous phytosanitary measures. If USDA leadership is focused on promoting export markets for U.S. agricultural producers, it will be difficult to persuade the agency to adopt and enforce effective tools to prevent pest introductions.

 

 

For more information:

DelReal, J.A. 2017. “Senators press Perdue on USDA budget. The Washington Post , March 24, p. A10.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senators-grill-agriculture-nominee-sonny-perdue-on-trumps-proposed-cuts-to-rural-programs/2017

Sheinin, A.G., “Bird flu found in Georgia chicken flock.” Atlanta Journal Constitution. March 27, 2017. http://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/bird-flu-found-georgia-chicken-flock/DGgBp1sUhctO6JLDLLyIFJ/

Sullivan, B.D., Sonny Perdue gets friendly reception during Agriculture secretary hearing, USA TODAY March 23, 2017. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/23/sonny-perdue-gets-friendly-reception-during-hearing-agriculture-secretary/99548680/

U.S. Department of Agriculture, “USDA on tainted Brazilian meat: none has entered U.S., 100 percent re-inspection instituted.” Press release, March 22, 2017. https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2017/03/22/usda-tainted-brazilian-meat-none-has-entered-us-100-percent-re

 

 

We welcome comments that supplement or correct factual information, suggest new approaches, or promote thoughtful consideration. We post comments that disagree with us — but not those we judge to be not civil or inflammatory.

 

Posted by Phyllis Windle and Faith Campbell

 

Using politics to protect our trees from non-native insects & pathogens

 

As we know, North America’s trees are under severe threat from a growing number of non-native insects, pathogens, nematodes, etc. (For lengthy descriptions of the threat, substantiated by source citations, read the Fading Forests reports here; or check out a recent policy brief here; or short descriptions; or from my earlier blogs.)

I hope we all agree on broad goals in our efforts to counter this threat. I suggest those goals – broadly speaking, can be summarized as

  • Preventing additional introductions to the greatest extent possible
  • Detecting new introductions quickly, initiating rapid & effective eradication or containment actions
  • Minimizing the risk of pest spreading from one state to others
  • Implementing programs aimed at restoring pest-depleted tree species to forests

 

America decides what issues government agencies will address through politics – the squeaky wheel gets the grease. We care about the pest threat to trees … so it is up to us to persuade political players to support programs structured to achieve these goals.

There are several approaches to engaging politicians. These should be pursued simultaneously and in a coordinated way. And we must persevere — asking politely but persistently for specific actions. Success is not achieved by one-time actions, but by continuing effort.

 

What Can We Do?

 

We can ask our state’s Governor to

Immediate actions

  • Communicate to the USDA Secretary the need to amend policies & regulations
  • Communicate with governors of other states with severe tree pest issues to ask them to support approaches to USDA & Congress
  • Put forest pest issue on the agenda of National Governors’ Association
  • Communicate with our state’s Congressional delegation and ask them to pressure USDA Secretary to amend policies and regulations
  • Communicate to the media both his/her concern about tree pest threats and proposed solutions.

Longer-term actions

  • Ask our state’s Congressional delegation to support proposed amendments to the 2019 Farm bill (see below)

 

We can ask our state’s agricultural and forestry agency heads to

  • Ask their national associations to support proposals to USDA Secretary & Congress. These associations include
    • National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA)
    • National Association of State Foresters (NASF) or its 3 regional groups – Northeastern Area Association of State Foresters, Southern Group of State Foresters, Council of Western State Foresters
  • Communicate to the media both the agency’s concern about tree pest threats and proposed solutions.

learning about forest pests (laurel wilt)

We can also act directly.

Ask mayors and officials of affected towns and counties to

  • Push proposals at regional or National Conference of Mayors or National Association of Counties
  • Instruct local forestry staff to seek support of local citizen tree care associations, regional and national associations of arborists, Arbor Day & “Tree City” organizations, Sustainable Urban Forest Coalition, etc.
  • Reach out to local media with a message that includes descriptions of policy actions intended to protect trees — not just damage caused by the pests
  • Ask stakeholder organizations of which we are a member or with whom we have contacts to speak up on the issue and support proposed solutions:
    • USDA Forest Service
    • State forestry divisions
    • Professional/scientific associations
    • Wood products industry
    • State departments of agriculture
    • State phytosanitary officials
    • Forest landowners
    • Environmental NGOs
    • Urban tree advocacy & support organizations

 

  • Encourage like-minded colleagues in other states to press the agenda with their state & federal political players, agencies, & media.
  • Communicate to the media both your concern about tree pest threats and proposed solutions.

 

Our goal is to create a “parade” – the impression of a groundswell demanding action that politicians will want to join. (Usually, they like to appear to “lead” the parade!). Note what was said by a real “Washington insider”, Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute. “If you want to influence leaders, sometimes you have to start a parade.” Quoted in the Washington Post 2/10/17

 

What Should We Tell All These People, Specifically?

What should be the content of our message to these potential allies? I suggest a coordinated package.  However, you might feel more comfortable selecting a few to address each time you communicate with a policymaker. Just choose those you think are most urgent, those you feel most passionate about, or those on which you have the most expertise. There is something for everyone below!

  • Make specific proposals, not vague ideas (see below for suggestions)
  • Always include information about how the pests arrive/spread (pathways such as imports of crates & pallets, or woody plants for ornamental horticulture) and what we can do to clean up those pathways (Don’t just describe the “freak of the week”)
  • Always point out that the burden of pest-related losses and costs falls on ordinary people and their communities. (Aukema et al. 2011 provides backup for this at the national level; try to get information about your state or city.)
  • We need to restore a sense of crisis to prompt action – but not leave people feeling helpless! We need also to bolster understanding that we have been and can again be successful in combatting tree pests.

 

Specific actions that will reduce risk that pests pose to our trees:

  • Importers switch from packaging made from solid wood (e.g., boards and 4”x4”s) to packaging made from other materials, e.g., particle boards, plastic, metal …
    This can be done by

— Persuading APHIS to initiate a rulemaking to require importers to make the shift. This can be done – although international trade agreements require preparation of a risk assessment that justifies the action because it addresses an identified risk (see my earlier blogs about wood packaging).

— Creating voluntary certification programs and persuade major importers to join them. One option is to incorporate non-wood packaging into the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) existing Customs-Trade Partnership Against terrorism (C-TPAT) program.

 

  • Tighten enforcement by penalizing shipments in packaging that does not comply with the current regulations

— Persuade CBP and/or USDA to end current policy under which no financial penalty is imposed until a specific importer has been caught five times in a single year with non-compliant wood packaging. APHIS has plenty of authority to penalize violators.

The Plant Protection Act [U.S.C. §7734 (b) (1)] provides for fines ranging from $50,000 for an individual up to $1 million for multiple, willful violations. These penalties can be imposed by the Secretary of Agriculture after a hearing – but without going through a trial. So far, the Secretary has not used this power to deter violations.

 

  • Restrict imports of woody plants that are more likely to transport pests that threaten our trees

— In 2011, APHIS adopted regulations giving it the power to temporarily prohibit importation of designated high-risk plants until the agency has carried out a risk assessment and implemented stronger phytosanitary measures to address those risks. Plants deserving such additional scrutiny can be declared “not authorized for importation pending pest risk assessment,” or “NAPPRA”. APHIS has proposed two lists of plant species under this authority. The second list was proposed nearly 4 years ago, but it has not been finalized so imports continue. APHIS should revive the NAPPRA process and utilize prompt listing of plants under this authority to minimize the risk that new pests will be introduced.

— APHIS should finalize amendments to the “Q-37” regulation (proposed nearly 4 years ago) that would establish APHIS’ authority to require foreign suppliers to implement integrated programs to minimize pest risk. Once this regulation is finalized, APHIS could begin negotiating agreements with individual countries to adopt systems intended to ensure pest-free status of those plant types, species, and origins currently considered to pose a medium to high risk.

— APHIS & USDA Foreign Agricultural Service should strengthen surveillance in foreign source countries for pests likely to attack North American trees, using such strategies as “sentinel trees” planted in botanical gardens.

 

  • Strengthen early detection/rapid response programs by

— Providing adequate funds to federal & state detection and rapid response programs. The funds must be available for the length of the eradication program – which often requires a decade or more. The current “emergency” funds available as transfers from the Commodity Credit Corporation usually are cut off after only 1 – 2 years.

— Better coordinate APHIS, USFS, state, & tribal surveillance programs.

— Engage tree professionals & citizen scientists more effectively in surveillance programs.

 

  • Enact Amendments to the 2019 Farm Bill to strengthen programs aimed at protecting North American trees from non-native insects and pathogens

— Stakeholders meeting under the auspices of several coalitions are considering what amendments to the Farm Bill could be advocated for the purpose of protecting our trees from non-native pests. Proposals under consideration would address such issues as

>> Strengthening APHIS’ pest-prevention mandate (which currently is conflated with a competing mandate to facilitate trade)

>> Providing increased and more reliable funding for detection, rapid response, and long-term restoration efforts

>> Providing incentives to importers to adopt pest-prevention programs beyond current legal requirements governing wood packaging materials

I will provide additional information about these proposals in coming weeks.

 

SOURCES

Aukema, J.E., B. Leung, K. Kovacs, C. Chivers, K. O. Britton, J. Englin, S.J. Frankel, R. G. Haight, T. P. Holmes, A. Liebhold, D.G. McCullough, B. Von Holle.. 2011. Economic Impacts of Non-Native Forest Insects in the Continental United States PLoS One September 2011 (Volume 6 Issue 9)

Posted by Faith Campbell

 

We welcome comments that supplement or correct factual information, suggest new approaches, or promote thoughtful consideration. We post comments that disagree with us — but not those we judge to be not civil or inflammatory.

 

How many new tree-killing pests can we expect?

 

Several analyses seek to quantify the risk that new tree-killing pests will be introduced to North America. They use different data sources and assumptions, and reach somewhat different conclusions. But all agree that the risk remains high, and the consequences of such introductions are dire.

 

I have relied on the Aukema et al. 2010 (see references at the end of the blog) and Haack et al. 2014 studies in past blogs. Aukema et al. 2010 looked at the probable dates of introduction for established insects and pathogens to determine that over 150 years, from 1860 to 2006, damaging forest insect and pathogen species were detected at an average rate of between 0.47 and 0.51 species per year. This translates to one damaging insect or pathogen every 2.1 to 2.4 years. The frequency of detection of high-impact forest pests rose sharply after 1990; beginning that year, detections of high-impact forest pests averaged 1.2 per year, nearly three times the rate of detections in the previous 130 years.

In 2013, 25 million shipping containers entered the U.S. An estimate from more than a decade ago is that wood packaging is used in about half of these containers. Haack et al. (2014) has estimated that 0.001% (1/10th of 1%) of the wood packaging in more than 12 million shipping containers entering the country each year is infested with quarantine pests. That works out to nearly 13,000 containers harboring pests that probably enter the country each year. That is 35 potential pest arrivals per day.

Leung et al. 2014 concluded that continuing to implement the international standard — ISPM#15 — at the efficacy level described by Haack et al. would result in a tripling of the number of non-native wood-boring insects introduced into the U.S. by 2050.

Koch et al. 2011 have also attempted to determine the current rate of introduction of wood-boring insects. They also sought to evaluate the introduction risk for specific metropolitan areas.

Koch et al. utilized various sources of information about volumes of imports of goods likely to be associated with wood-boring pests (e.g., raw wood and wood products; and stone, metals, non-metalic minerals, auto parts, etc., contained in wooden crates and pallets) to estimate both a nationwide establishment rate of wood-boring forest insect species and the likelihood that such insects might establish at more than 3,000 urban areas in the contiguous US.

They estimated the nationwide rate of introduction of wood-boring pests at between 0.6 and 1.89 forest pest species per year for the period 2001–2010.  Even the more conservative estimates points to establishment of a new alien forest insect species somewhere in the US every 2–3 years. If one accepts the ‘‘tens rule’’ – that one out of ten new introductions proves to have substantial effects, then one expects establishment of a significant new pest on average every 5 – 6 years. The authors note that the establishment of at least four ecologically and/or economically significant alien forest insects during the past 20–25 years – emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, Sirex woodwasp, and redbay ambrosia beetle – fits the model’s conclusion. [All of these pests are described in the Gallery of Pests posted here.]

The Aukema et al. estimate for introductions of “high impact” pests during the period after 1990 – 1.2 per year – is in the middle of the Koch et al. estimate for wood-borers, but higher than the Koch et al. estimate for “significant” pests.

Koch et al. estimated a lower rate of introductions between 2010 and 2020 – between 0.36 and 1.7 species per year. The Haack et al. and Leung et al. analyses would seem to contradict this expectation. Also, the findings of Seebens et al. (see my blog from earlier this week) contradicts any expectation that introductions will soon decline as a result of depletion of the pool of possible pests in origin countries.

Koch et al. analyzed data on imports of relevant commodities from all source regions to determine the introduction risk for 3,126 urban areas in the country. The urban area at greatest risk was Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana, California. The predicted introduction rate for both 2010 and 2020 for this metropolis was establishment of a new alien forest insect species every 4–5 years. The port of New York-Newark came in second, with a predicted establishment rate of one every 8–9 years. Houston ranked third; its predicted establishment rate was one every 13–15 years. All other urban areas were at substantially lower risk – a new introduction every 24 years.

Looking ahead to the decade 2010 to 2020, Koch et al. found that three California metro areas – Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana; San Diego; and Riverside-San Bernardino – would be exposed to increased establishment rates driven by the growth of imports from Asia.

Risk To Canada

Yemshanof et al. 2011 applied the Koch et al. methodology to evaluate the risk to Canada. Reflecting the lower volume of imports entering Canada compared to the U.S., they found a lower nationwide entry rate for Canada – 0.338 new forest insect species per year vs. the Koch et al. estimate of 1.89 for the U.S. Evaluating individual urban areas, they found the greatest risks to the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver areas. Moderate-sized cities near ports, major markets, or U.S.-Canada border crossings – transportation hubs – were also at heightened risks.

Canada as Pest Pathway to U.S.

Yemshanof et al.’s model indicates that 8% of all tree pests entering the U.S. as estimated by Koch et al., come through goods transshipped through Canada. The risk is highest to the Pacific Coast states since they are the most likely to receive Asian goods transiting through Canada. Note that the U.S. and Canada have proposed requiring that wood packaging originating in one of the countries and shipped to the other should be included under the ISPM#15 regulation. However, APHIS was unable to adopt this regulation under the Obama Administration, and such an action seems even less likely under the Trump Administration.

 

Neither study included plant imports, which are another very important pathway for introduction of tree-killing pests, especially pathogens.

 

SOURCES

Haack RA, Britton KO, Brockerhoff EG, Cavey JF, Garrett LJ, et al. (2014) Effectiveness of the International Phytosanitary Standard ISPM No. 15 on Reducing Wood Borer Infestation Rates in Wood Packaging Material Entering the United States. PLoS ONE 9(5): e96611. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096611

Koch, F.H., D. Yemshanov, M. Colunga-Garcia, R.D. Magarey, W.D. Smith. 2011. Potential establishment of alien-invasive forest insect species in the United States: where and how many? Biol Invasions (2011) 13:969–985

Leung, B., M.R. Springborn, J.A. Turner, E.G. Brockerhoff. 2014. Pathway-level risk analysis: the net present value of an invasive species policy in the US. The Ecological Society of America. Frontiers of Ecology.org

Yemshanov, D., F.H. Koch, M. Ducey, K. Koehler. 2012. Trade-associated pathways of alien forest insect entries in Canada. Biol Invasions (2012) 14:797–812

 

Posted by Faith Campbell

 

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Alien species introductions — going up!

trade transports many invasive species

Containers at Long Beach, California; courtesy of the Port Authority

In an article published recently in Nature Communications , Hanno Seebens and 44 coauthors show that the rate of new introductions of alien species has risen rapidly since about 1800 – and shows no sign of slowing down. See a summary of the article with revealing graphs here .

Through analysis of a database covering 45,813 first records of 16,926 alien species established in 282 distinct geographic regions, the authors determined that the number of new species reports reached a maximum of 585 in 1996 (or an average of more than 1.5 sightings per day).

Of course, whether a species’ introduction is detected depends on a variety of factors. One of the most important is the species’ impact – or lack thereof! – on economically important resources – this determines whether the species gets noticed. Furthermore, detection usually happens some time after a species’ actual introduction. And, regardless of factors motivating human attention, some types of species are more easily detected than others. All these factors skew the findings. Because many introductions are not detected, Seebens et al. note, their data underestimate actual introductions.

The authors found that the adoption of national and international biosecurity measures during the 20th century have slowed introductions – but they are not yet sufficiently effective. Most notably, numbers of reported new introductions of fish and mammals have decreased since the early 1950s. Of course, introductions of these taxa are usually the result of deliberate decisions, usually by authorities. It is encouraging that authorities appear to be getting the message that adding new species to an ecosystem is a risky enterprise.

 

Japanese honeysuckle; courtesy of Bugwood.org

However, not all deliberate introductions have been curbed. Seebens et al. were surprised to see that vascular plant species introductions remained at such a high rate throughout the 20th century. Introductions of birds and reptiles also continue to rise, largely as pets in countries with strengthening economies.

For those plants and animals that are introduced primarily accidentally as stowaways on transport vectors or contaminants of commodities (e.g., algae, insects, crustaceans, molluscs and other invertebrates), Seebens et al. found a strong correlation between their spread and the market value of goods imported into the region of interest.

Having noted that almost all biosecurity efforts are not yet slowing introductions adequately, Seebens et al. point to New Zealand as the exception. That country adopted the Biosecurity Act in 1993 and the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act in 1996.

Although 20 years is a short period to gauge a policy’s efficacy – especially given time lags in detecting introductions – Seebens et al. say the stringent new policy appears to be succeeding. They found a significant decline in the number of new alien plants detected in New Zealand since the 1990s. New Zealand’s laws rely on a “white list” of permitted species rather than the more usual “black list” of prohibited species. New Zealand requires a risk assessment before a decision is made to allow any new species to be brought into the country.

Of course, such an approach does not apply easily to the taxa most often introduced as unintended hitchhikers on, or as contaminants of, imported goods, packaging, or transport vehicles – such as tree-killing insects and diseases. The paper notes that existing biosecurity regimes have not slowed down the accumulation of alien species introductions overall, but especially those arriving mainly accidentally, such as invertebrates and pathogens.

As a consequence, Seebens et al. expect that the numbers of new alien species will continue to increase.

I have previously blogged about other studies that show continuing introductions of forest pests and other specific taxonomic groups.  See blogs about (1) 2014 IUCN report on invasive species threats to World Heritage sites; (2) IUCN analysis of red-book-listed species – causes of endangerment; (3) rate of new plant pests being detected in US; (4) Jung et al. on Phytophthoras in Europe; (5) Zamir’s critique of international the phytosanitary system; (6) Klapwjik et al. on European efforts to strengthen regulations governing movement of living plants; (7) ISPM#15 11th anniversary.

Other recent studies have also examined the bioinvasion situation for the whole Earth or major regions. Liebhold et al. 2016 studied insect assemblages in 20 regions around the world. They found that which insect orders are present in a particular region differs completely depending on whether one is looking at native or at nonindigenous assemblages. The authors believe that difference is largely caused by the varying probability that an insect taxon can take advantage of one or more high-volume invasion pathways – such as trade in agricultural products, movement of plants by international travelers, shipments of stored grain, trade in living plants, hitchhiking (e.g. on the outside of shipping containers) and wood packaging. Pathway association appeared to be more important than insects’ life-history traits, which affect their ability to establish in a new ecosystem.

Maartje J. Klapwijk and several colleagues note that growing trade in living plants and wood products has brought a rise in non-native tree pests becoming established in Europe. The number of alien invertebrate species has increased two-fold since 1950; the number of fungal species has increased four-fold since 1900.

Jung et al. (2015) studied the presence of Phytophthora pathogens in nurseries in Europe. They found

  • Two-thirds of the Phytophthora taxa detected in European nurseries by the present study were unknown to science before 1990.
  • None of the 59 putatively exotic Phytophthora taxa detected in the present study had been intercepted at European ports of entry.
  • Spread of the quarantine organism ramorum has not been halted despite the presence of strict quarantine regulations.

I will post a blog examining introduction rates for tree-killing insects and pathogens specifically in the near future. In the meantime, see the published studies listed below as well as my earlier blogs and fact sheets posted here .

Aukema, J.E., B. Leung, K. Kovacs, C. Chivers, K. O. Britton, J. Englin, S.J. Frankel, R. G. Haight, T. P. Holmes, A. Liebhold, D.G. McCullough, B. Von Holle.. 2011. Economic Impacts of Non-Native Forest Insects in the Continental United States PLoS One September 2011 (Volume 6 Issue 9)

Aukema, J.E., D.G. McCullough, B. Von Holle, A.M. Liebhold, K. Britton, & S.J. Frankel. 2010. Historical Accumulation of Nonindigenous Forest Pests in the Continental United States. Bioscience. December 2010 / Vol. 60 No. 11

Haack RA, Britton KO, Brockerhoff EG, Cavey JF, Garrett LJ, et al. (2014) Effectiveness of the International Phytosanitary Standard ISPM No. 15 on Reducing Wood Borer Infestation Rates in Wood Packaging Material Entering the United States. PLoS ONE 9(5): e96611. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096611

Leung, B., M.R. Springborn, J.A. Turner, E.G. Brockerhoff. 2014. Pathway-level risk analysis: the net present value of an invasive species policy in the US. The Ecological Society of America. Frontiers of Ecology.org

Liebhold, A.M., T. Yamanaka, A. Roques, S. Augustin, S.L. Chown, E.G. Brockerhoff, P. Pysek. 2016.  Global compositional variation among native and nonindigenous regional insect assemblages emphasizes the importance of pathways. Biological Invasions (2016) 18:893–905

Lovett, G.M., M. Weiss, A.M. Liebhold, T.P. Holmes, B. Leung, K.F. Lambert, D.A. Orwig , F.T. Campbell, J. Rosenthal, D.G. McCullough, R. Wildova, M.P. Ayres, C.D. Canham, D.R. Foster, S.L. LaDeau, and T. Weldy. 2016. Nonnative forest insects and pathogens in the United States: Impacts and policy options. Ecological Applications, 0(0), 2016, pp. 1–19. DOI 10.1890/15-1176.1

 

 

Posted by Faith Campbell

We welcome comments that supplement or correct factual information, suggest new approaches, or promote thoughtful consideration. We post comments that disagree with us — but not those we judge to be not civil or inflammatory.