Conserving Biodiversity on Military Lands: A Guide for Natural Resource Managers 3rd Edition

Invasive Species Management

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Non-native invasive species are a leading threat to our nation’s rich biodiversity, as well as to national security, the economy, and human health. Since colonial periods, thousands of non-native species have been introduced to the United States, some by accident and others quite deliberately. Based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plants Database, currently 13 percent (5,303 of 40,140) of the vascular plant species in the nation are not native to North America. These would include most of Americans’ favorite foods and many ornamental plants. The majority of non-native plants and animals existing in the U.S. are not harmful, but some non-native species cause tremendous damage when released outside of their native habitats. As defined by Executive Order 13112, invasive species are those non-native species that “cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment reported in 1993 that 15 percent of invasive plants and animals cause severe economic and environmental harm.

Invasive species occur throughout the lands and waters of the United States, and military lands are no exception. These invaders are a major and growing problem on military lands, impacting the ability to train the nation’s armed forces, degrading ecosystem health of these public lands, endangering native biodiversity, and potentially causing harm to human health. The military faces some unique challenges in combating invasive species on their lands, challenges related to their primary goal of maintaining the quality of military lands for realistic training exercises, while also meeting their responsibility to safeguard the quality of natural resources and biodiversity on their lands.

Numerous military installations across the country have employed successful and innovative methods to control invasive species, examples of which will be referred to throughout this chapter and in the case studies. Given the vast amount of land that the military owns and manages in the United States, the military has a unique responsibility in managing for invasive species and in helping to prevent new introductions. The Department of Defense (DoD), however, cannot stop the problem of invasive species on its own. Invasive species are a “beyond the fenceline” issue Page 269 of 293 that must be addressed comprehensively, by Congress and other state and federal public land management agencies, as well as by private entities and individuals. Given the far-reaching nature of this problem, DoD has formed many diverse partnerships in battling invasive species, some of which are highlighted below.58

58 Some general sources of information about invasive species can be found at the National Invasive Species Information Center (; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (, and or

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