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


​ ​
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

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.



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.


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.





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