Coordinated efforts, better funding and education can help better control and eradicate some invasive species across the state.
Government leaders and other officials raised the issue during a Center for Rural Pennsylvania webinar hosted by State Senator Gene Yaw of R-Loyalsock Township on Tuesday.
Yaw, president of the Center, called the issue of great concern to the state.
It’s an issue that impacts waterways, farms, the environment in general and even the economy, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said.
Research published by the Center in 2019 estimated a direct economic impact of $ 13.1 million per year on agriculture in the state due to the spotted lantern fly.
“This is an estimate of the damage done to an industry and an economy for just one of the many invasive species”, Yaw said.
A big problem, he said, are the late responses to invasive species situations after they emerge.
State Department Secretary for Conservation and Natural Resources Cindy Adams Dunn said her agency supports a partnership approach to tackling the problem.
“Invasive species occupy an increasing place in our work (DCNR)”, she said.
Among the most prevalent invasive species over the past 30 to 40 years, the gypsy moth has devastated forest lands and other areas, including those intended for recreation.
She estimated it will likely cost the state between $ 5 million and $ 7 million in treatment costs next year.
“We really see ourselves gaining momentum” she said, adding that the limited staff and resources make the battle difficult.
Yaw said swift action and concentrated efforts are needed to tackle all invasive species.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Timothy Schaeffer testified about how aquatic invasive species crowd out native species in waterways.
One example is the flathead catfish, native to western Pennsylvania, which has found its way into the eastern part of the state, including the Susquehanna River.
His agency, he said, is also working with the agriculture ministry to update regulations on invasive species.
âWe hired our own aquatic invasive species specialist. So we take this really seriously. he said.
He spoke about the possibility of boat cleaning warrants to ensure that the boats do not cause the spread of invasive species.
“There are exotic species and reptiles that are introduced into the waterways that we must stop”, he said. âWe are working to remove the materials from the boats and not transport them to the next location. “
Dunn noted that not only boats, but also unwashed boots or other footwear worn by boaters and anglers can lead to the introduction of invasive species into a stream or lake.
Crawford County Conservation District Watershed Specialist Brian Pilarcik said cooperative efforts have helped tackle the problem of hydrilla, a submerged aquatic weed that has resulted in the potential for ecological devastation in the country. Pymatuning reservoir.
A strategy has been developed with funding from the federal, state and neighboring Ohio governments to deal with the problem.
“Due to early action, a huge threat has been stopped”, he said.
Preventive and swift action, he said, is essential to avoid great ecological damage.
Dr Jayson Harper, professor of agricultural economics at Penn State University, said eradicating invasive species is expensive and often faces opposition.
Sarah Grove, president of political science at the University of Shippensburg, noted that no uniform effort is in place to control invasive species.
She called for policies to address the problem, including: promoting interagency cooperation, developing regulations for boat inspections, and developing a funding mechanism for early detection and rapid response.
Yaw noted the successes in dealing with invasive species.
“I think it is important that we recognize the problem and the impact it can have on all of us”, he said.