Gov. Jay Inslee, in partnership with the Washington Invasive Species Council, has proclaimed February 28 through March 4 as Invasive Species Awareness Week in Washington.
“We all need to be aware of invasive species and take simple actions to prevent and stop them,” Inslee said. “We have to work together to protect our state from invading plants and animals that can damage habitat, out-compete native species for food and destroy what makes Washington such a great place to live.”
Whether on land or in water, some organisms such as fish, bugs, plants and other wildlife can damage agriculture, recreation, forests, and other resources when introduced to Washington from other areas. One study estimates that only 22 species would cost Washington more than $100 million annually in damage and loss if they were not prevented or controlled.
The awareness week includes a series of webinars and events aimed at sharing information on particular species. Visit the Invasive Species Awareness Week web page for more information.
“Today, one of the single largest threats to natural and cultural resources for the Kalispel Tribe are invasive species,” said Glen Nenema, chairman of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, which is a member organization on the council. “Non-native plants and animals that harm our native ecosystems are a growing problem throughout Kalispel lands and is only getting worse with a changing climate. These invasive species are a shared concern for tribal, federal, state and county governments.”
In Inslee’s proclamation, he notes that everyone has a role to play in stopping invasive species by doing simple actions such as looking for plants and animals not native to Washington when spending time outdoors, and reporting sightings. Residents should report any potential invasive species they spot using the Washington Invasives mobile app or by visiting the website, InvasiveSpecies.wa.gov.
The City of Bellingham’s focus on stopping invasive species includes a watercraft inspection program that in 2021 conducted 14,415 inspections and decontaminated
10 watercraft that recently had come from mussel-infested waters. City leaders encourage the public to join in efforts to stop invasive species.
“To stop new invasive species, we need the public’s help finding the very first bug, plant or animal,” said Seth Fleetwood, Bellingham mayor. “We are proud of our work locally and very much need members of the public to join in our efforts. If we can find them before they get settled in, we can save a lot of money, time and resources. Vigilant residents recently helped us detect Asian giant hornets and European green crab, and our watercraft inspectors helped prevent an introduction of zebra and quagga mussels. We’re grateful the public is joining us to stop invasive species on land and water. Working together is key to successfully eliminating future problems.”
Being alert and reporting suspected problems is just one action that anyone can take. Other simple actions to prevent and stop invasive species include the following:
- Clean your hiking boots, bikes, waders, boats, trailers, off-road vehicles and other gear before you venture outdoors to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location. Learn about pathways that spread invasive species.
- On your next walk, look out for noxious weeds. Visit the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board’s website to learn about noxious weeds and if you spot some in your yard or while walking in your neighborhood, notify your county noxious weed control board.
- Dispose of unwanted pets, aquarium plants and water, science kits and live bait the proper way and NOT by dumping them into waterways. Released pets often suffer a slow death in winter or may become invasive and damage wildlife and crops. Visit the council’s “Don’t Let It Loose” web page to learn the proper ways to dispose of unwanted pets and plants.
- Buy firewood where you’ll burn it or gather it on site when permitted. Remember not to move firewood from the local area where harvested. Learn more about the potential dangers of moving firewood.
- Protect salmon and steelhead by not moving any fish from one waterbody into another. This will prevent the spread of fish diseases and protect salmon and steelhead fisheries from non-native predatory fish. Visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website to learn more about moving fish.
- Use weed-free, certified forage, hay or mulch. Visit the Washington Department of Agriculture website to see details of its certification program.
- Plant only non-invasive plants in your garden and remove any known invasive plants.
- Volunteer to survey public lands and trails as a Citizen Science Invasive Plant Monitor with the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council. Learn more on the plant council’s Facebook page.
- Become a Washington State University Master Gardener and help your community identify, report and properly manage exotic and invasive pests.
- Volunteer to help remove invasive species from public lands and natural areas. Contact your state, county or city parks and recreation department, land trust, conservation district, or Washington State University’s Extension Office to learn more.
- Don’t pack a pest. When traveling internationally, review travel guidelines on items that should not be brought back to the United States. Learn more about Don’t Pack a Pest.
“We know how to prevent and stop invasive species,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “No action is very complicated and each just takes a few minutes. If we all integrate these activities into our daily lives and work, we will protect what we know and love about this place we call home.”
Webinars and Virtual Events
Register for the Webinars because spots are limited.
- February 28: Noxious Weeds That Impact Riparian Habitat: Integrated Pest Management and Best Practices
- March 1: Washington Conservation Corps: Creating Future Leaders Through Community Involvement and Mentorship
- March 2: Partners in Prevention–Protecting our Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species
- March 3: Pacific European Green Crab Management /March 3: Invasive Species and Exotic Pest Virtual Workshop
- March 4: Giant Hornet 2 Years Later–What We’ve Learned and What We Still Don’t Know
The Legislature created the Washington Invasive Species Council in 2006 and tasked it with providing policy-level direction, planning and coordination for combating harmful invasive species throughout the state and preventing the introduction of others that may be potentially harmful.