WASHINGTON  -- The U.S. Forest Service announced  the publication of its first-ever national-level direction on the management of invasive species across aquatic and terrestrial areas of the National Forest System.

“Invasive species cost the American public an estimated $138 billion each year. They deplete water supplies, destroy recreation opportunities and damage landscapes across the country.” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “We are taking this bold approach to better protect our nation’s forest and water resources from the threat of invasive species.”

While the Forest Service has long had a Forest Service Invasive Species Program, this new policy adds requirements for agency-wide integration of invasive species prevention, early detection and rapid response, control, restoration, and collaborative activities across all National Forest System lands.

"The integrated nature of this new approach will make the Forest Service able to more effectively manage invasive species in the context of environmental issues such as adaptation to climate change, increasing wildfire risk, watershed restoration, fragmentation of habitats, loss of biodiversity, and human health concerns," said USDA Undersecretary Harris Sherman. "At the same time, we will be engaging the public, including participation by underserved communities in these programs and benefits."

The proposed policy was published on June 3, Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period. The final policy published Dec. 6, 2011 reflects the consideration of comments received from a wide variety of stakeholders in the public and private sectors, including non-government organizations, state and local government agencies, private individuals, and other Federal government agencies.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

 Source: U.S. Forest Service

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