Oregon gets high marks for battling invasive species

SALEM — Oregon is making some progress battling invasive species, including new legislation and the creation of an emergency fund.

A statewide "report card" for 2009, released last week by the Oregon Invasive Species Council, gave the state an overall grade of A-minus.

The state got an A for a statewide assessment of invasive species the council said was among the first in the nation. The Oregon Legislature also passed 11 of 12 bills introduced to help protect the state from invasive species.

None of the organisms on the state's "100 worst" list became established in Oregon in 2009, also earning the state an A. But to maintain or improve that grade, Oregon must prevent all species on the list from becoming established by 2011.

The state got a B for funding as it works toward a goal of building a $5 million emergency fund to deal with invasive species issues. The fund was started with $350,000 in seed money last year.

One of the tools the state uses in the battle is its 1-866-INVADER hotline, a toll-free telephone line to report a potential invasive species. Last year, it received 188 calls.

The state also has an online reporting system featured at www.oregoninvasiveshotline.org.

The report card noted that Oregon made a series of education and outreach efforts last year, including conference calls the state initiated with Washington and Idaho to address regional issues.

Oregon also applied for a federal grant to conduct a tri-state outreach campaign on firewood transport and its role as a vector of invasive species.

Some of the successes last year included an off-duty Oregon State Police trooper who spotted a 30-foot boat being transported from California that a spot check later showed needed a thorough cleaning to avoid possible contamination with invasive species.

In another incident, the report said council member Don Farrar happened to drive by a field within 100 feet of the John Day River and spotted a plant that seemed out of place.

Closer examination revealed one acre of Iberian thistle that was sprayed with herbicide after Farrar was able to secure $3,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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