Napolitano reinstates invasive species council


(Note: "Invasive" and "non-native" are used interchangeably, as though they were synonymous. Nothing could be further from the truth. Plenty of "natives" are noxious, but no mention is made of them. Beware the copious language deception. This has all the trappings of a taxpayer-funded black hole. Salt cedar is habitat for certain birds, but that is never mentioned. A great deal of truth is conspicuous by its absence.)


February 24, 2007

By Samantha M. Novick / Cronkite News Service

Mojave Daily News

2435 Miracle Mile

Bullhead City, Arizona 86442-7311


To submit a Letter to the Editor: apparently does not offer a Letters section
Phoenix, Arizona - Governor Janet Napolitano has permanently reinstated the Arizona Invasive Species Advisory Council, a group that addresses threats from non-native species such as the roof rat, the yellow star thistle and the recently discovered quagga mussel.

"The new executive order to kick off the invasive species council is an important step in undertaking this serious environmental issue," said Larry Riley, fisheries chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department and a past member of the council.

Napolitano's executive order, issued January 24, came shortly after the quagga mussel, which has caused extensive damage in the upper Midwest, was found in Lake Mead, Lake Havasu and Lake Mohave along the Colorado River.

Napolitano created the council by an executive order in 2005, but it disbanded after issuing a report last year that called non-native species "a serious and growing problem in Arizona." The group recommended that it be made permanent.

"One of the recommendations of the council was to be made a permanent group," said Lori Faeth, the governor's policy adviser for natural resources. "This issue is important, and the governor is very concerned about it and took their recommendation. But it took some time to carry out."

The Arizona Game and Fish Department and state Department of Agriculture will operate the Invasive Species Advisory Council, whose members will be appointed by the governor.

On Friday, the Game and Fish Department announced that an invasive fish thought to have been eradicated in Arizona, the bighead carp, has been found in Tucson's Lake Kennedy. It grows quite large and can damage ecosystems.

The department also said the gizzard shad, already found in Lake Powell, has been found in Lake Roosevelt. That fish, which can reach up to 20 inches, could compete with a smaller shad fish species that is a food source for game fish.

In its final report issued June 30, 2006, the Arizona Invasive Species Advisory Council identified 19 non-native plants found in Arizona that cause severe problems for ecosystems and native plant and animal communities, including red brone, Russian knapweed and salt cedar. Crayfish, the American bullfrog and the New Zealand mud snail were listed as animal species to watch.

Michael Baker, the president of Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona, knows all too well the problems caused by non-native plant species. He leads volunteer removal efforts of salt cedar, fountain grass, red brone and bull thistle throughout the state five or six times a year.

"Certain plants, such as salt cedar, draw out an enormous volume of water which damages stream flow," Baker said. "Others such as red brome are fire hazards. When these burn, they torch everything and spread the fire to other plants."

Non-native insects are particularly dangerous to Arizona's $9.2 billion agriculture industry. For two years, the Arizona Department of Agriculture has been trying to eradicate the glassy winged sharpshooter, a disease carrying insect from the Southeastern United States.

"Invasive species are something we're always worried about," said department spokesman Ed Hermes. "In the spring months we're especially concerned about the sharpshooter. It could potentially take out the wine industry in Arizona."

Not all non-native species that are introduced to Arizona become a problem, but some thrive and become invasive, said Jeff Lovisch, deputy director of the Southwest Biology Science Center, operated by the U.S. Geological Survey.

"The biggest reason that some of these species prosper is because there is a lack of natural diseases or predators for them," Lovisch said. "They are able then to just reproduce, proliferate and grow."

The United States spends an estimated $135 billion per year paying for the damage caused by invasive species, and Lovisch says that's probably a conservative estimate.

"Every state needs to be doing more (about invasive species)," Lovish said. "I think that it speaks volumes for Arizona if the governor sets out an executive order that recognizes this as a problem."


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Copyright 2007, Mojave Daily News.


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