U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-05), chair of the bipartisan Invasive Species Caucus, hosted a caucus hearing in Washington, DC about the threat invasive species pose to local budgets, agriculture, infrastructure and the environment across California’s Fifth Congressional District and other communities across the country.
“Invasive species pose a costly challenge to our economy, infrastructure, agriculture and the environment,” said Thompson. “In the counties that make up our district, three lakes are rated at the highest risk for a quagga invasion.”
He added, “If such an invasion occurs, it could devastate our local budgets, wreck our water infrastructure and threaten native species. That’s why I brought together experts for a bipartisan hearing on the plans Congress and local leaders need to put in place to protect our communities from invasive species before they become a major problem.”
At the hearing, members of the caucus heard from experts about federal coordination of state-based efforts for invasive species control.
Thompson asked about quagga mussel control in the state of California and commented on the need for improved prevention activities such as watercraft inspection and decontamination.
Thompson also highlighted the need for rapid response to relatively new infestations, such as the tree-of-heaven in California’s Fifth Congressional District.
Co-Chairman Dan Benishek (R-MI-1) mentioned the need for an increased focus on state and local efforts for invasive species such as eurasian milfoil in the Great Lakes.
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32), also in attendance, commented on the need for better federal agency coordination in the prevention of infrastructure-damaging invasive species at federal waterways.
All members present agreed to an ongoing commitment to work with federal agencies to continue to improve invasive species prevention and control across the country.
Experts joining Thompson at the hearing to testify were Susan Mangin, executive secretary, Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force; Lori Williams, director, National Invasive Species Council; and Bill Hyatt, invasive species committee chair for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Invasive species threaten communities by devastating native habitats, damaging crops, clogging water pipes, infecting plants and animals with dangerous diseases, and outcompeting native species. This can lower crop yields, pose health hazards, damage natural environments, and take a severe toll on local, state and federal budgets.
Nationwide, damages associated with invasive species cost an estimated tens of billions of dollars per year.
In the Fifth Congressional District, Clear Lake, Lake Sonoma and Lake Berryessa are all rated at the highest possible risk level for quagga invasion. Currently none of these lakes has been invaded by quagga mussels.
However, if quaggas invade one of these lakes, control and treatment would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and negatively impact the water supply for residents in Sonoma, Lake and Solano counties.
Aquatic mussels such as quagga and zebra mussels have cost U.S. communities more than $5 billion since their introduction in the 1980s.
The Congressional Invasive Species Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Mike Thompson and Dan Benichek is an informal, bipartisan group dedicated to raising awareness about invasive species issues, supporting local communities who are bearing the brunt of this problem, and promoting efforts to prevent and control the spread of invasive species.
The caucus provides opportunities for representatives to meet with the most important policy makers, organizations, and industry leaders that are impacted by invasive species.
Thompson represents California’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.