Managing Invasive Species Means Teamwork

A local partnership of agencies and non-profit organizations has formed to work together to prevent, monitor and control invasive species in Tillamook County.  Because they jump barriers and spread beyond the bounds of a single landowner, managing non-native invasive plants and animals takes teamwork. This summer, a group of these organizations has formed the Tillamook County Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (TC-PRISM) to make that effort easier. The partnership is the first of its kind in Oregon, taking its cue from similar efforts in New York State and from Cooperative Weed Management Areas throughout the western United States.

Gorse (Ulex europaeus). Photo by Lynn Ketchum, OSU EESC.

Gorse (Ulex europaeus). Photo by Lynn Ketchum, OSU EESC.

Non-native, invasive plants and animals—known collectively as invasive species—pose a serious risks to wildlands as well as the productivity of our agricultural and forested areas. In aquatic environments, invasive plants and animals often affect the abundance of freshwater and marine fisheries.  In all cases, invasive species cause some kind of economic, environmental, or even human health-related harm.  As they march across the United States, invasive species have cost private citizens, businesses and governments over $143 billion dollars annually in direct losses or through prevention, monitoring and control activities.

Members of the TC-PRISM include Tillamook County, Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, Tillamook County Soil and Water Conservation District, Stimpson Lumber Company, Oregon State University Extension Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and the Lower Nehalem, Nestucca-Neskowin and Tillamook Bay Watershed councils.  Federal agencies at the table include the Siuslaw National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management.  Others who have agreed to work with the group include the Tillamook School District #9 and the Oregon Department of Agriculture as, Oregon Department of Transportation well as the Northwest Weed Management Partnership.

The mission of the TC-PRISM is to protect important natural resource values such as forest and agricultural production as well as biodiverse estuaries, wetlands, riparian areas, aquatic ecosystems and other natural areas by using a collaborative and integrated approach to invasive species management.

The partners will work together to prevent the introduction of invasives to the county or to areas where they are not already established. One of the most important means to achieving that goal is to conduct early detection and rapid response—finding the invaders before they become established.  Finding invaders before they become widespread lowers costs for control and harm to resources, homes and businesses.  Another means to prevent new invasives is to educate the public and industry.  Partners will also be working together to map and share information about the location of invasives in the county.  When prevention fails, the partners may work together to control the invaders using the least toxic methods first, and agree to share information on what control methods are most effective.  Lastly, the partners have agreed that restoration of native plant and animal communities makes the best barrier to new invasions.

Over the spring and early summer, the TC-PRISM started to get legs under it, with initial meetings focused on the organization’s structure, legal parameters, and decision-making processes.  Within the next few months, the group will write a management plan and action plans for tackling specific goals.

Membership is open to any public, private, and industry-specific organization with an interest in working cooperatively to manage invasive species.  To find out more, contact me at the OSU Extension Service, Tillamook County, (503) 842-5708 X 210. You can also contact me electronically here.

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