Invasive species include plants, animals, and pathogens that are non-native to our ecosystem and cause harm to natural and cultural resources, the economy, and human health.
Some non-native plants and animals have caused vast damage to our natural resources as well as our economy, despite the tireless efforts of many people to mitigate those impacts. The economic impact in the wake of the Yellowstone Fish Kill of August 2016 has not been calculated but is projected to be a significant hit to the local economy considering there are thousands of jobs linked to recreating on the Yellowstone.
But other species have not yet become established in Montana. Some, such as feral hogs, and the emerald ash-borer, could have devastating consequences. In recent years, we have greatly improved our system of perimeter defense and inspection stations. However, gaps remain. We are fortunate that Montana remains relatively free of invasive species that have wreaked havoc in other states.
That means we now have an opportunity that will not come again. It is imperative that we do all in our power to better protect Montana from new invasive introductions, even as we strengthen our ongoing campaigns against existing nonnative species. The cost of more effective prevention, detection, response, and mitigation will not be insignificant. But if we were to fail, the costs would be many times greater: enormous economic damage, unending costs of mitigation, and most of all, the priceless destruction of the natural and cultural heritage entrusted to us.
To address this complex problem, the Governor’s Office established the Montana Invasive Species Council (MISC) in 2015. The Council is a diverse group of scientists and resource managers charged with developing “a science-based, comprehensive program to identify, prevent, eliminate, reduce, and mitigate the impacts of invasive species in Montana.” The Council began their work with a Statewide Assessment or inventory of the individuals, groups, and agencies working on invasive species, their management priorities, and an estimate of their expenditures in March of 2016.
In April 2016, MISC held an Invasive Species Summit in Helena to bring together stakeholders concerned about these problems and involved in addressing them. Nearly 200 people from across the state and beyond attended including elected officials from all levels of government, agency heads and staff members, scientists, ranchers and farmers, sovereign tribal government representatives, business people, non-governmental organization members, and many others took part. The Summit made clear how many of us recognize the importance of the invasive species issue and the critical need to strengthen our efforts.
Out of that summit, and the input and recommendations from hundreds of citizens and invasive species professionals, we have drafted this report: The Montana Invasive Species Framework. This is a living document positioned to be flexible based on emerging threats and needs. It is intended to serve as a roadmap for better collaboration in Montana’s efforts to prevent and manage invasive species.
MISC Vision Mission Charter and Bylaws