Hearings and Business Meetings
Mr. Mark Fox
Director of External Affairs, The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii
Testimony of Mark R. Fox, Director of External Affairs
The Nature Conservancy, Hawai‘i Program
Field Hearing on Invasive Species
Subcommittee on National Parks
Senator Akaka, thank you for hosting this hearing and for the opportunity to testify on invasive species issues and legislative solutions to this serious threat. My name is Mark Fox, and I am the Director of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i.
The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. With the support of approximately 1 million members, The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 120 million acres and 5,000 river miles around the world.
The Hawai‘i Chapter of the Conservancy has been in operation for 25 years and we currently manage a network of 12 preserves encompassing about 32,000 acres across the main Hawaiian islands. In addition to our core field work on our own preserves, we work with public and private colleagues throughout the state to organize and operate partnership entities that help protect and manage the islands’ globally unique, but extremely fragile natural resources.
Examples of these partnerships include the five Island Invasive Species Committees that you hear a lot about today, and nine watershed partnerships around the islands that are managing nearly 1 million acres of
BACKGROUND ON INVASIVE SPECIES
Our organization’s experience over the last quarter century demonstrates that the single greatest threat to the survival of
As you know, however, this is not just an environmental problem. Under unfortunate circumstances, we are finding strong allies across a wide variety of sectors including the visitor industry, health care, agriculture, and real estate as we all try to figure out how to deal with pests ranging from alien algae that blanket coral reefs, mosquito borne diseases, fire ants and stinging caterpillars, forest-choking weeds, ear-splitting coqui frogs, and costly crop diseases.
We have been working hard over many years to physically control invasive species once they have arrived and become established. However, it is only in the last 10 years that we have undertaken an organized effort in Hawai‘i to affect public policy with respect to invasive species. Our work at the county, state and federal levels includes efforts to enhance recognition of the ecological, economic, health, and lifestyle threats from invasive species, to secure more funding to address these threats, and to support improved government policy in this area.
INTERIOR DEPARTMENT LEGISLATION
We appreciate the leadership of Senator Akaka and Senator Wyden in sponsoring important bills that move us in the right direction of addressing pressing invasive species policy needs. The Natural Resource Protection Cooperative Agreement Act (S. 1288) will help with a very practical problem that has challenged the National Park Service. This important legislation addresses the fact that no authority now exists to allow a park to expend resources or enter into partnerships to control imminent invasive species threats outside park boundaries. The provisions of S. 1288 would simply and effectively resolve this problem, as well as provide additional authority for the Park Service to enter into collaborative relationships that will benefit park resources. We trust the Administration will support this legislative version of the principles underlying the President’s Executive Order on Cooperative Conservation.
The Park Service has the expertise to provide significant national leadership in this area. For example, using the teams that fight wildfires as a model, the National Park Service established Exotic Plant Management Teams (EPMT) across the country to serve as a highly-trained, mobile strike force that now protects hundreds of National Parks from the threat of invasive plants. Thanks to this program, the Pacific Islands EPMT proactively manages aggressive weeds in all the national parks in
We also appreciate your planned reintroduction of the Public Land Protection and Conservation Act (S. 2598, 108th Cong.). This measure creates an excellent framework of federal granting authority to assist states with assessment and rapid response to invasive species threats, and to foster partnerships to control pests on and adjacent to Interior and Forest Service lands. This bill would provide an important additional source of revenue to leverage existing state and local funding for invasive species, including funding for rapid response programs to eradicate incipient invasions before they become widely established. Together with other members of the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species, the Conservancy endorses this legislation and looks forward to working with you to gain passage of this bill.
PREVENTION AND QUARANTINE
We can and will spend vast amounts of time and money battling pests that become established in Hawai‘i and elsewhere in the
Legislation designed, in part, to prevent the further introduction of aquatic invasive species to the
The need for NAISA is demonstrated by existing invasions of national parks. For example, the
Another major threat to the resources of many National Parks is the existing and potential effects of introduced forest insects and diseases. The forests of such eastern parks as
In addition, white pine blister rust is killing ninety percent or more of high-elevation five-needle pines in Glacier,
As noted above, much of the National Park Service’ current effort to combat introduced forest insects and pathogens is funded through the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Management Program. Chairman Charles Taylor of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee has provided key Congressional leadership to increase funding for this program. However, the agency responsible for preventing introductions of forest pests and eradicating those that evade border controls is USDA APHIS. Unfortunately, APHIS has not received adequate funding to carry out effective eradication programs targeting even the pests which pose the greatest risk, such as the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. Congress and the governors of affected states have urged the Administration to provide emergency funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation, but the Administration has so far rejected such requests.
Turning more directly to the issue of prevention and the threat of new pest introductions in Hawai‘i, I would like to offer some specific comments on inspection and quarantine activities at ports of entry. While this may not be directly within the jurisdiction of this subcommittee, it is an area of critical importance to any entity trying to manage invasive species threats.
As a direct result of National Park Service leadership, a model for prevention is being realized on the
This process, which began with a proposed runway extension, was not easy for anyone involved particularly on an island that relies heavily on visitor and cargo arrivals to support its economy. However, the model now being established at Kahului airport is the product of hard work and understanding by a number of individuals and agencies like the National Park Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports Division, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, and others.
The important progress at Kahului airport traces back to
It is also worth noting that the Park Service in Hawai‘i and
Even with this spirit of collaboration and example of success at Kahului airport, there are formidable challenges to developing a truly effective prevention system—right up to and including the United State Constitution and the free market principles this nation is founded upon. For centuries this country has promoted the important notions of free trade and open boarders to commerce.
The Constitution’s Commerce Clause (Art I., Sec. 8, Clause 3) and Supremacy Clause (Art VI, Clause 2) set that stage by giving Congress the authority to regulate commerce with other nations and between the states, and confirming that federal law is the supreme law of the land. In the area of pest prevention, the federal Plant Protection Act takes it a step further by specifically preempting states from being more restrictive than the federal government in regulating the movement of plants and plant products. (7 USC § 7756) The federal government is not so preemptive with respect to regulating the movement of animals, both terrestrial and aquatic.
The differences in Hawai‘i state law regarding the introduction of plants and non-domestic animals (Hawai‘i Revised Statutes §§ 150A-6.1 and -6.2) directly reflect the preference for movement of plants through federal preemption of state regulatory regimes. Basically,
The State of
With this problem in mind and recognizing Hawaii’s unique risk from invasive species, a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would provide Hawai‘i with additional federal support on incoming quarantine inspections and establish an expedited process for the State to implement regulations to protect itself from pest threats. In particular, H. R. 3468, the Hawaii Invasive Species Prevention Act, would:
§ Mandate federal quarantine protection for the State of
§ Allow for federal enforcement of State quarantine laws;
§ Establish an expedited review process for the State of
§ Allow the State of
We hope you will review this bill and consider introducing a companion measure in the Senate.
Brown Tree Snakes and the Department of Defense
The build up of
In the last two weeks of June alone:
§ 7 military aircraft left
§ These aircraft contained 131 military household goods packouts.
§ These packouts included 312,780 lbs. of cargo.
§ This cargo was bound for locations throughout the Pacific, the
§ Final destinations included temperate locations such as Hawai‘i, American Samoa, Okinawa, Puerto Rico, California, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Louisiana where brown tree snakes could survive year-round and pose significant ecological, economic and human health threats.
(Source: USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services,
The 2003 reauthorization of the federal Sikes Act (16 USC §§ 670a-670f) included a pilot program requiring that the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan (INRMP) for Anderson Air Force Base on Guam contain specific elements on invasive species. We recommend a review of this pilot test, including consideration that it be applied to all Defense Department INRMPs through either further amendment to the Sikes Act or the annual Defense Authorization Act.
We also recommend specific requirements concerning not only the impact of invasive species to natural resources on military bases, but also the threats posed to outside locations as the result of exports of pests in military transport. Further, it is important that invasive species mitigation, especially regarding the movement of pests in military transport, become an integral component of the budgeting for base operations and military readiness. Important language that would have required this type of consideration was stricken from the Brown Tree Snake Control and Eradication Act of 2004 before it passed the Congress last year.
Thank you again for this opportunity to offer The Nature Conservancy’s comments on the critical issues related to invasive species policy. The global economy and our ability to quickly and efficiently move people and goods around the globe benefit all of us. However, these same modern advancements are exponentially elevating the potentially catastrophic threats of invasive pests and diseases. We greatly appreciate your recognition of this serious issue and your willingness to take a leadership role in enhancing federal policies and resources to address this problem.