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Welch Introduces Bill to Prioritize Invasive Species Prevention

February 25, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Rep. Peter Welch on Thursday reintroduced legislation that would provide federal funding to revitalize forests being destroyed by invasive species and help stem the future infestations of invasive pests.

“Invasive species are devastating to forests which are a central part of Vermont’s economy and our way of life,” said Welch. “This bill will fund efforts to revitalize damaged forests and highlight the need for making this a priority within the federal government.”

“After many years of working with our friends at the Center for Invasive Species Prevention, Vermont FPR, private forestry, academia, and other invasives non-profits, VWA is proud to support the Invasive Species Prevention and Forest Restoration Act as an important legislative initiative in the work to restore America’s trees under threat of ecological extinction from invasives,” said Al Robertson, Secretary of the Vermont Woodlands Association. “We are indebted to Congressman Welch for his support and perseverance in introducing the bill and his long time support of the work to fight the spread of invasive pests and diseases”

The new Invasive Species Prevention and Forest Restoration Act recognizes the national threat posed by invasive species by including new funding for federal studies to address the problem.

Welch’s bill:

  • Expands the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s access to emergency funding to combat invasive species when existing federal funds are insufficient and broadens the range of actives that these funds can support.
  • Establishes a grant program to support institutions focused on researching methods to restore native tree species that have been severely damaged by invasive pests.
  • Authorizes funding to implement promising research findings on how to protect native tree species.
  • Mandates a study to identify actions needed to overcome the lack of centralization and prioritization of non-native insect and pathogen research and response within the federal government, and develop national strategies for saving tree species.

More than 200 tree species growing on nearly two-thirds of forestland in the continental U.S. will be threatened by non-native insects and pathogens over the next decade. The most prominent trees threatened with extinction include American chestnut, elm, and ash. Vermont’s ash trees in particular are threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle first discovered in Vermont in 2018 that is taking a heavy toll on local forests.

Welch’s bill is endorsed by Vermont Woodlands Association, American Forest Foundation, Center for Invasive Species Prevention and the Reduce Risk from Invasive Species Coalition.