Thank Your Senators!!!


Congress is now considering funding for various agencies and programs for Fiscal Year 2018 – which begins on October 1, 2017. Both the House and Senate Appropriations committees have adopted bills to fund APHIS (in the agriculture appropriations bill) and USFS (in the interior appropriations bill). Once these are passed – I expect with little change – by the appropriate chambers, the two very different bills will be reconciled by a Conference Committee made up of members of both the House and Senate and then passed in final form.

Please thank the Senators on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee for their strong support for APHIS’ programs targeting tree pests. Ask them to maintain this support during the Conference – where the House members will be pushing for cuts.

To read the bills and accompanying reports, go here for the House appropriations bill for USDA, (including APHIS); here for the House Interior bill (including the USFS).  Go here for the Senate appropriation bill for USDA.  (Links to the bills and reports are at the end of each press release.) The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet acted on the Interior bill.


Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Appropriators are working under severe pressure given the large spending reductions proposed by the President in the Administration’s budget sent to the Congress earlier in the Spring.

The House appropriated $906 million for APHIS. This is $40 million less than in FY17 but $96.4 million more for APHIS than the Administration requested. The House agriculture appropriations bill made significant cuts in the Tree and Wood Pests program in order to stay within its overall total while maintaining or expanding other programs. The result would devastate the Tree and Wood Pests program. The House bill cuts funding for this program by 30% from the level provided in recent years – from $54 million to $38 million.

The Senate bill, in contrast, increases funding for the Tree and Wood Pests program by $2 million – from $54 million to $56 million. The Senate was able to do this because its bill provided significantly more money for APHIS than did the House: the Senate bill appropriated $953.2 million for APHIS, $7 million above the FY17 funding level; $143.2 million above the Administration’s budget request; and $47 million above the House funding level.

I have blogged often about the necessity of maintaining the Tree and Wood Pest program. In recent years, APHIS’ Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) eradication program has cost $35 – $40 million per year. The program has succeeded in shrinking the New York infestation by 85% and the Massachusetts infestation by 34%. The Ohio infestation has also been reduced – although by considerably less. In its FY2016 annual report, APHIS said the infestation area had been cut by 15%. However, earlier in July APHIS announced that the Ohio infestation is larger than previously known. The quarantine zone was expanded from 61 to 62 square miles. Now is not the time to abandon the 21-year old ALB eradication effort. For a reminder of the threat this insect poses to our hardwood trees, see the write-up here.

The report from the Senate Committee link says that it is “essential” to complete eradication of the ALB.

APHIS and the states have already agreed to cut back the agency’s efforts to regulate movement of ash wood in order to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB). I am unhappy about this retreat. Still, APHIS planned to continue to survey for EAB in unregulated areas, to educate appropriate publics, to coordinate with affected states, and to produce and disperse biocontrol agents. The Senate funding level – unlike the House funding level – would allow APHIS to maintain these vitally important activities aimed at protecting America’s urban and wildland forests from EAB (For a reminder of that threat, see the write-up here).

Finally, states and stakeholders will expect APHIS to continue its program to slow the spread of the gypsy moth – a program which has received from the Tree and Wood Pest program $5 – $6 million per year in recent years. APHIS must also be prepared to eradicate any newly detected outbreaks, especially of the Asian gypsy moth on the West coast.

I have repeatedly argued that APHIS should expand its program so as to address the many additional tree-killing pests introduced in recent years, 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
  • Velvet longhorned beetle
  • Spotted lanternfly

Therefore, I rejoice to see that the Senate report link says: “The Secretary is directed to report to the Committee regarding the steps being taken to eradicate the Asian long-horned beetle and spotted lanternfly and to minimize the spread of other pests such as the polyphagous and Kuroshio shot hole borers (emphasis added).

The Senate report also calls on APHIS to continue efforts to control the coconut rhinoceros beetle in Hawai`i and Ceratocystis disease  That latter is presumably the pathogen causing rapid `ohi`a death in Hawai`i.

The other APHIS program which has supported programs targetting tree-killing pests is the Specialty Crops program. The House bill increased funding for the Specialty Crops program from $156 million to $160 million for FY18. However, $152.3 million of this total – 95% — is allocated to specified agricultural pests, including fruit flies, diseases of citrus trees, glassy winged sharpshooter and European grape vine moth, pale cyst nematode, and light brown apple moth. This means that little is left for addressing sudden oak death or tree-killing pests next year.

Strangely, APHIS said, in its FY16 Annual Report, that the European grape vine moth had been eradicated. So why does the FY18 House appropriations bill allocate $5 million for this pest? It might be for continued surveillance to verify that eradication has been successful.

The Senate bill provides even more – $166 million – for the Specialty Crops program.  The Senate Committee report instructs APHIS to spend “no less than the fiscal year 2017 level of funding” to manage potential movement of sudden oak death in the nursery trade – without specifying the amount.

The House committee did expand overall funding for plant pests to a total of $294 million. The House report says that this total includes an increase of $12.5 million for a Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program. This funding explicitly can be spent on tree and wood pest surveillance as well as the clean plant network and citrus health. This increase is welcome, but it does not make up for the 30% cut in specific funding for the tree and wood pest program. The increased surveillance is of doubtful value if it does not result in eradication or containment efforts!

Again, the Senate bill is more generous; it provides $320,308,000 for plant health.

The decisions made by the House Appropriations Committee clearly show the importance of lobbying by traditional agricultural interests in defending funding for programs of interest to them. Several programs targetting diseases of livestock and poultry were maintained at the FY17 funding level. As noted above, the “specialty crop pests” account was increased.


Those of us who care about protecting our trees must become more visible advocates for these programs.


As in the past, both the House and Senate reports support APHIS’ access to emergency funding to be obtained as transfers from the Commodity Credit Corporation for the “arrest” and eradication of animal and plant pests and diseases that threaten American agriculture. The House language appears to be less restrictive.

Unfortunately, it has been years since APHIS sought – much less received – funding through the emergency provision to address tree-killing pests. This is why CISP and others are proposing to amend the Farm Bill to broaden APHIS’ authority to access these funds when appropriated funds are insufficient to counter tree-killing pests. (See my blog from early July for information about these proposed amendments and how you can support them.)

The House also follows the Administration in calling for greater cost-sharing with States and other cooperators. The Houe report states: “The Committee directs APHIS to maximize the use of cost-sharing agreements or matching requirements with states, territories, producers, foreign governments, non-governmental organizations, and any other recipient of services in order to reduce the cost burden on the agency.”

The President’s budget request called for even more severe cuts and justified these cuts by saying that the programs could be maintained if the states, localities, and industries benefitting from eradication or containment of the ALB and EAB helped pay for the containment program. The budget called for beneficiaries to pay 50% of program costs. However, states, localities, and industries are very unlikely to make up such severe cuts in funding. Already, local governments across the country are spending more than $3 billion each year to remove trees on city property killed by non-native pests. Homeowners are spending $1 billion to remove and replace trees on their properties and are absorbing an additional $1.5 billion in reduced property values and reducing the quality of their neighborhoods (Aukema et al. 2011; full reference at end of blog.)

Remember: thank your senators for their generosity to APHIS’ tree pest programs – especially if they are members of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee (members listed below).

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




US Forest Service

The House Interior Committee provided $92,084,000 for Forest Health Management, $2,416,000 below the FY17 funding level but $1,694,000 above the budget request. The Report does not specify the amounts for federal v. non-federal lands, but the Administration’s request specified $54 million for federal lands and $36 million for cooperative programs managing forests on non-federal lands. (As recently as FY2014, the forest health program received more than $100 million per year.)

The House Interior Committee recommends $278,368,000 for Forest and Rangeland Research, $10,146,000 below the FY 2017 funding level and $19,368,000 above the budget request. $75 million  of this total is allocated to the Forest Inventory and Analysis program. The Report says that the Committee does not accept the proposed reduction for invasive species research. This is gratifying. However, I have been unable to find the proposed reduction, and there has never been a “line” specifically for invasive species research. Therefore, I am unclear about what level of funding has been retained. (In past years, the total allocated to research on non-native tree-killing pests averaged about $5 million.)

The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet acted on the Interior Appropriations bill so I cannot tell you how much money that body will provide for these programs.




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)



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Posted by Faith Campbell


Invasive “hot spot” study confirms vulnerable places, causes of introductions

removing Miconia from Hawaiian forest; courtesy of the Nature Conservancy of Hawai`i

A recent article by Wayne Dawson and 24 coauthors (see reference at the end of this blog) provides the first-ever global analysis of established alien species. They studied the diversity of established alien species belonging go eight taxonomic groups – amphibians, ants, birds, freshwater fish, mammals, reptiles, spiders and vascular plants – across 609 regions (186 islands or archipelagos, and 423 mainland regions).

The analysis found that the highest numbers of established alien species in these taxonomic groups were in the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand’s North Island and the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia. The Hawaiian Islands have high numbers of invasive species in all of the eight groups studied. In New Zealand, the highest numbers were invasive plants and introduced mammals that prey on the native birds.

Florida is the top hotspot among mainland regions. Florida is followed by the California coast and northern Australia.

Burmese python in the Florida Everglades; photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


 Invasive species hotspots were found mainly on islands and in coastal regions of mainland areas. The lead author, Dr. Wayne Dawson, a researcher at Durham University’s Department of Biosciences, suggested that the greater invasive species richness in coastal regions probably results from higher rates of species introductions to port areas compared to interior regions.

Island regions have, on average, higher cross-taxon invasive species richness. This cross-taxon richness on islands tends to be higher for those islands further from continental landmasses. The authors suggest that such oceanic islands might be more likely to import large quantities of goods from foreign sources than islands close to continents, thus experiencing higher propagule pressure.



Regions with greater wealth (measured as per capita GNP), human population density, and area have higher established alien richness. These effects were strongest on islands. The authors suggest that wealth and human population density might correlate with higher numbers of species being brought to the region through trade and transport.

On mainlands, cooler regions have higher richness. I think this might reflect history – centuries of colonial powers importing plants and animals. However, colonial powers also introduced species to tropical regions.  In contrast, on islands warmer and wetter regions have higher richness of invasive species.



The authors conclude that cumulative numbers of invasive species at a particular location are driven to a greater extent by differences in area and propagule pressure than by climate. The model that best explains cross-taxon invasive species richness combines per capita GDP, population density and sampling effort. Other important factors are area of the region, mean annual precipitation, and whether a region is on a mainland or island(s).

The study results show that, per unit increase in area, per capita GDP, and population density, invasive species richness increases at a faster rate on islands than on mainlands. This might be confirmation of the longstanding belief that islands are more readily invaded than mainlands, although the authors caution that a rigorous test of this explanation would require data on failed introductions.

The authors call for additional research to understand whether these effects arise because more species are introduced to hotspot regions, or because human disturbance in these regions makes it easier for the newcomers to find vacant spaces and opportunities to thrive.


I think it would be helpful to compare the findings on invasive species richness in specific regions to data on historic patterns of trade and colonization to strengthen our understanding of the importance of propagule pressure in determining invasion patterns.


Increasing Confirmation of Significance and Breadth of Invasive Species Threat

The Dawson et al. study is the latest in a series of analyses of global or regional patterns in invasive species. I have blogged previously about several of these:

  • Bradshaw et al. 2016 concluded that invasive insects alone cause at least $77 billion in damage every year, a figure they described as a “gross underestimate”.
  • A study by Hanno Seebens and 44 coauthors showed that the rate of new introductions of alien species has risen rapidly since about 1800 – and shows no sign of slowing down. Adoption of national and international biosecurity measures have been only partially effective, failing to slow deliberate introductions of vascular plant species, birds, and reptiles, and accidentally introduced invertebrates and pathogens. Like Dawson et al, Seebens et al. found a strong correlation between the spread of bioinvaders introduced primarily accidentally as stowaways on transport vectors or contaminants of commodities (e.g., algae, insects, crustaceans, molluscs and other invertebrates) and the market value of goods imported into the region of interest.
  • Liebhold et al. 2016(see reference below) studied insect assemblages in 20 regions around the world. They found that an insect taxon’s ability to take advantage of particular invasion pathways better explained the insect’s invasion history than the insects’ life-history traits. (The latter affect the insect’s 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 59 putatively alien Phytophthora taxa in the nurseries. Two-thirds were unknown to science before 1990. None had been intercepted at European ports of entry when they were introduced. Nor have strict quarantine regulations halted spread of the quarantine organism ramorum.
  • A report by The World Conservation Union (IUCN) on World Heritage sites globally found that invasive species were second to poaching as a threat to the sites’ natural values. Of 229 natural World Heritage sites examined, 104 were affected by invasive species. Island sites – especially in the tropics – were most heavily impacted.
  • Another report by IUCN found that invasive species were the second most common cause of species extinctions – especially for vertebrates.


These studies demonstrate that

  • Invasive species have become a significant threat to biological diversity and ecosystem services around the world – one that continues to grow.
  • The recent spate of studies originating in Europe probably reflects recent recognition of the continent’s vulnerability – as seen, inter alia, in the proliferation of tree-killing Phytophthoras.
  • Human movement of species – propagule pressure – whether deliberately or due to inadequate efforts to manage trade-related pathways – explain the bulk of “successful” introductions.
  • Economic activity drives introductions, so areas at highest immediate risk are urban areas and other centers receiving high volumes of imports and visitors. Among troubling trends in the future is rapid global urbanization – along with rising economic interdependency.
  • Efforts to curb these movements – at the national, regional, and international levels – have failed so far to counter the threat posed by invasive species of nearly all taxonomic groups.

In my view, the requirements that phytosanitary measures “balance” pest prevention against trade facilitation results in half measures being applied – and half measures achieve halfway results. For example, the U.S. does not require that packaging be made from materials that cannot transport tree-killing pests. The USDA has moved far too slowly to limit imports of plant taxa that pose a risk of either being invasive themselves or of transporting pests known to be damaging.


Conservationists should focus on building political pressure to strengthen regulations and other programs intended to curtail this movement. No other approach will succeed.



Bradshaw, C.J.A. et al. Massive yet grossly underestimated global costs of invasive insects. Nat. Commun. 7, 12986 doi: 10.1038/ncomms12986 (2016). (Open access)

Dawson, W., D. Moser, M. van Kleunen, H. Kreft, J. Perg, P. Pyšek, P. Weigelt, M. Winter, B. Lenzner, T.M. Blackburn, E.E. Dyer, P. Cassey, S.L. Scrivens, E.P. Economo, B. Guénard, C. Capinha, H. Seebens, P. García-Díaz, W. Nentwig, E. García-Berthou, C. Casal, N.E. Mandrak, P. Fuller, C. Meyer and F. Ess. 2017. Global hotspots and correlates of IAS richness across taxon groups. Nature Ecology and Evolution Vol. 1, Article 0186. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0186 |


Jung,T., L. Orlikowski, B. Henricot, P. Abad-Campos, A.G. Aday, O. Aguin Casa, J. Bakonyi, S.O. Cacciola, T. Cech, D. Chavarriaga, T. Corcobado, A. Cravador, T. Decourcelle, G. Denton, S. Diamandis, H.T. Doggmus-Lehtijarvi, A. Franceschini, B. Ginetti, M. Glavendekic, J. Hantula, G. Hartmann, M. Herrero, D. Ivic, M. Horta Jung, A. Lilja, N. Keca, V. Kramarets, A. Lyubenova, H. Machado, G. Magnano di San Lio, P.J. Mansilla Vazquez, B. Marais, I. Matsiakh, I. Milenkovic, S. Moricca, Z.A. Nagy, J. Nechwatal, C. Olsson, T. Oszako, A. Pane, E.J. Paplomatas, C. Pintos Varela, S. Prospero, C. Rial Martinez, D. Rigling, C. Robin, A. Rytkonen, M.E. Sanchez, B. Scanu, A. Schlenzig, J. Schumacher, S. Slavov, A. Solla, E. Sousa, J. Stenlid, V. Talgø, Z. Tomic, P. Tsopelas, A. Vannini, A.M. Vettraino, M. Wenneker, S. Woodward and A. Perez-Sierra. 2015. Widespread Phytophthora infestations in European nurseries put forest, semi-natural and horticultural ecosystems at high risk of Phytophthora disease. Forest Pathology.


Klapwijk, M.J., A.J.M. Hopkins, L. Eriksson, M. Pettersson, M. Schroeder, A. Lindelo¨w, J. Ro¨nnberg, E.C.H. Keskitalo, M. Kenis. 2016. Reducing the risk of invasive forest pests and pathogens: Combining legislation, targeted management and public awareness. Ambio 2016, 45(Suppl. 2):S223–S234  DOI 10.1007/s13280-015-0748-3  [ ]


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


Seebens, H. et al., 2017. No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications. January 2017. [ ]



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



How we can strengthen programs to protect trees from invasive pests

USDA; photo by F.T. Campbell

Every five years, Congress adopts a new Farm Bill. The House and Senate Agriculture committees are  holding hearings and considering proposals for the Farm Bill due to be adopted in 2019. Now is the time for people concerned about the continuing introductions of forest pests and weakness of our government’s response to pests that have become established to ask their Representative and Senators to adopt legislative language to strengthen relevant USDA programs. I suggest specific proposals below – which I hope you will urge your representatives to support.

The Farm Bill supports our Nation’s largest soil and water conservation programs. The Farm Bill can also be used to create new programs that address other issues – such as pest prevention and response.

The Farm Bill already has been used to strengthen APHIS’ phytosanitary programs. For example, Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill provides more than $50 million annually for the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program. These funds have supported numerous vitally important research and management programs targetting polyphagous shot hole borer, spotted lanternfly, velvet longhorned borer, thousand cankers disease, emerald ash borer, as well as more general goals such as improving traps for detecting wood-borers and outreach about emerald ash borer to Native American tribes. With APHIS’ annual appropriations falling far short of the resources needed to respond to invasions by numerous plant pests, Section 10007 has provided essential supplements to the agency’s programs.

The new Farm Bill to be adopted by the Congress offers opportunities to strengthen other components of USDA programs with the goal of protecting the tree species comprising our wildland, rural, and urban forests.

The Center for Invasive Species Prevention and Vermont Woodland Owners Association have developed several proposals that we hope will be incorporated into the 2019 Farm Bill. These proposals have been endorsed by the Reduce Risk from Invasive Species Coalition.  The amendments have also been endorsed by the Weed Science Society of America. CISP submitted testimony summarizing these proposals to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in early July, when the Committee held a hearing on the Farm Bill’s conservation and forestry programs. (For a copy of our testimony, contact us using the “contact us” button.)

You can help by contacting your Representative and Senators and asking them to support these proposed amendments to the 2019 Farm Bill.

These proposed amendments seek to address the following needs.

  • Do you wish to strengthen APHIS’ commitment to pest prevention in the face of a competing mandate to facilitate trade?

Then you might want to support a proposed amendment to Section 3 of the Plant Protection Act. The new language would read as follows:

“(3) It is the responsibility of the Secretary to facilitate exports, imports and interstate commerce in agricultural products and other commodities that pose a risk of harboring plant pests or noxious weeds in ways that will reduce prevent, to the greatest extent practicable feasible, as determined by the Secretary, the risk of dissemination of plant pests and noxious weeds.”

  • Do you wish to increase funding for APHIS’ programs responding to recently-detected plant pests?

Then you might want to support a proposed amendment that would expand APHIS’ access to emergency funds by enacting a broad definition of “emergency”. Under the new definition, “emergency” would mean “any outbreak of a plant pest or noxious weed which directly or indirectly threatens any segment of the agricultural production of the United States and for which the then available appropriated funds are determined by the Secretary to be insufficient to timely achieve the arrest, control, eradication, or prevention of the spread of such plant pest or noxious weed.”

This amendment would help APHIS evade the downward push of its declining annual appropriation and enable the agency to tackle more of the tree-killing pest that have entered the U.S.

Customs inspecting wood packaging

  • Do you wish to promote stronger measures aimed at minimizing the presence of pests in wood packaging material? (I have blogged repeatedly about the continuing pest risk associated with the wood packaging pathway.)

Then you might want to support a proposed amendment that would establish a non-governmental Center for Agriculture-Trade Partnership Against Invasive Species. That Center would promote industry best practices, encourage information-sharing, and create an industry certification program under which importers would voluntarily implement pest-prevention actions that are more stringent than current regulations (ISPM#15) Link require.

American Chestnut Foundation chestnut in experimental planting in Fairfax County, Virginia; photo F.T. Campbell

  • Do you wish to strengthen efforts to develop programs that would provide long-term funding to support 1) research and development of long-term pest-control strategies such as biological control and breeding of trees resistant to insects or pathogens and 2) testing, development, and implementation of strategies to restore to the forest native tree species that have been severely depleted by non-native pests?

Then you might want to support a pair of proposed amendments that would:

  1. Establish a fund, to be managed by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, to provide grants under which eligible institutions would carry out research intended to test and develop strategies aimed at restoring such tree species. Such strategies might include finding, testing, and deploying biological control agents or breeding of trees resistant to pests.
  2. Amend the McIntyre-Stennis Act to establish a fund to provide grants to support programs to eligible institutions to conduct experimental plantings aimed at restoring such tree species to the forest.

You can obtain copies of the proposed amendments, in legislative language, by contacting us using the “contact us” button.

Your efforts will be valuable in any case … but if your Representative or Senator is on the agriculture committee, contacting that Member will be most important!

Members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry:

Republicans (majority):

  • Pat Roberts, KS, Chairman
  • Thad Cochran, MS
  • Mitch McConnell, KY
  • John Boozman, AR
  • John Hoeven, ND
  • Joni Ernst, IA.
  • Chuck Grassley, IA
  • John Thune, SD.
  • Steve Daines, MT
  • David Perdue, GA
  • Luther Strange, AL

Democrats (minority):

Members of the House Committee on Agriculture

Republicans (majority):

Democrats (minority):


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