Presidential Transition Package from the Continental Dialogue

Washington, DC (December 10, 2008)- A coalition of 21 organization including the Alliance for Community Trees, ANLA, and Nature Conservancy today signed a joint letter to President-elect Obama encouraging his attention to address the sweeping problems of non-native forest insects and diseases in the U.S. Suggested measures include improved detection systems at our borders, eradication programs that minimize the ability of non-native insects and diseases to survive, and broad public education on the crisis. Here is the letter:

Dear President-Elect Obama:
Forests in the United States are being attacked by non-native forest insects and diseases, which represent one of the greatest ecological and economic threats to our rural and urban forests. These have been introduced to our country as a by-product of international trade and travel, and then are inadvertently spread domestically through movement of packaging material, firewood, plant material, and other vectors. Federal, state, and local government agencies, along with private and non-profit partners are working heroically now to eliminate and slow the spread of disastrous invasive forest insects, such as the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Longhorned Beetle, which have the capacity to impact the American forest landscape drastically and irreversibly.
The Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases is a collaboration of diverse interests, representing the private and public sectors, aimed at improving our nation’s efforts to address this significant threat to our forests. We believe that invasive species issues are in need of greater priority by federal agencies – both in terms of policies dealing with introduction and spread of these pests as well as the availability of resources needed to support these efforts.
The Continental Dialogue’s broad goals are to: (1) Improve federal and state programs so as to virtually eliminate new introductions of non-native forest insects and diseases to the U.S.; (2) Improve detection and eradication systems to prevent the survival of newly-introduced non-native forests insects and diseases in the U.S.; (3) Minimize the ability of established populations of non-native insects and diseases to thrive in the U.S.; and (4) Increase engagement by all the key constituencies affected by non-native forest insects and diseases or that play a role in their arrival and establishment.
The Continental Dialogue requests your leadership and pledges our assistance in taking actions that we believe will ensure our nation’s forests are protected from invasive species and continue to sustain and enrich the well-being of our citizens and communities. We recommend four priority federal actions that can be taken in the upcoming year. These actions provide a foundation for a clear, solutions-oriented agenda for your administration in addressing the impacts of invasive species on our nation’s forests. They include:
1. Preventing many new introductions of non-native forests pests and diseases by strengthening regulations governing imports of live plants (“Q-37” – the Federal quarantine regulating the import of plants, roots, bulbs, and seeds);
2. Preventing the spread of introduced pests by strengthening regulation of wood packaging used in interstate commerce;
3. Seeking and allocating greater financial resources to support prevention, detection, eradication, and management programs, utilizing the Farm Bill, Department appropriation requests and emergency funding; and
4. Implementing the National Invasive Species Management Plan so as to ensure needed coordination among the multitude of federal agencies which have responsibility for addressing introduced forest pests.
Please see the attached background documents which establish the value of forests and represent the work already completed by the Continental Dialogue on these important actions.
The Continental Dialogue stands ready to participate with you in providing the forest protection leadership needed for our country. We believe these four priority actions are a key first step to address political, policy and programmatic elements needed to assure our nation’s forests continue to provide traditional benefits as well as contribute to new environmental, energy, and climate challenges. We are in a unique position, not only to help guide the development of these policies and programs, but also to assist in their delivery at the local level. Please do not hesitate to call upon us.
Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.
Alliance for Community Trees
American Forest & Paper Association
American Nursery & Landscape Association
Center for Conservation Solutions
Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia
City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation Bureau of Forestry
The Davey Institute
Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association
Michigan State University, Dept of Entomology & Dept. of Forestry
Mulch & Soil Council
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Association of State Foresters
National Plant Board
Natural Biodiversity
Northeast Midwest Institute
Oregon Invasive Species Council
Purdue University, Department of Entomology
Society of American Florists
The Nature Conservancy
Valent U.S.A. Corporation
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Related Resources:
Presidential Transition Package from the Continental Dialogue