HELENA – More than 60 people including biologists, landowners and policy makers gathered in Helena on Wednesday November 14 for the ‘Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative Montana’ workshop.
Hosted by the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), the workshop focused on early detection and rapid response when responding to invasive species.
“Invasive species and their associated impacts present one of the great environmental and economic threats to our western landscapes,” warned Governor Steve Bullock in his keynote address. “It can impact every aspect of life in the West from agriculture to forestry to species conservation, recreation economies and tourism.”
WGA representatives say the goal of the event is to form unified, nonpartisan policies for combating invasive species on both the state and federal levels.
Several panels were held during the workshop with topics ranging from invasive mussels to monitoring invasive species infestations.
“The intent is to really come together on some of the most vexing issues that we face throughout the West and say how can we meaningfully move the needle,” said Bullock.
In 2014 Bullock established the Montana Invasive Species Advisory Council through executive order to better combat foreign species in the state, educate the public about them and be better prepared for the arrival of new invasive species.
“Our effort have certainly underscored to me that while prevention always has to be the first line of defense, it can’t be the only line of defense,” said Bullock. “Fundamentally early detection and rapid response has to be as well thought out or even better thought out.”
Bullock also noted that having a nonpartisan plan to address invasive species throughout the West helps everyone.
“What one of our partners are doing, one of our neighbor states and what we’re doing in Montana has an impact far beyond just the borders of this one-hundred and forty-thousand square mile state,” said Bullock, “And that’s why you really have to take an all landscape, regional approach when you’re dealing with invasive species.”
Today’s conference is one of four workshops the WGA is holding throughout the region to address invasive species.
The next event is in Kona Coast, Hawaii on December 9 and 10, 2018 focusing on bio-security and agriculture.
Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative is the Chairman’s Initiative of Hawaii Gov. David Ige.
For a full list of reported invasive species in Montana visit here.