On 9 July 2014, the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on H.R. 3994, “Federal Lands Invasive Species Control, Prevention, and Management Act.” The proposed legislation would mandate that 75 percent of funding for invasive species be allocated for control and management, while limiting the amount used for research, education, and administration. It would also set a goal of reducing invasive species populations on public lands by 5 percent each year.

Witnesses testifying before the panel were Lori Williams, Executive Director of the National Invasive Species Council; Mary Wagner, Associate Chief of the US Forest Service; and George Beck of the Healthy Habitats Coalition.

In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT) stated that “even though we appropriate substantial funds for eradication, the status quo simply is not working.” In response, Beck said that the proposed law would be a “fiscal paradigm shift” that could solve the problem of “insufficient funds finding their way out to the hinterlands.” Beck felt that a large portion of the appropriated budget was sidetracked into administrative and other funds, never reaching the areas where it was needed most.

In contrast, Williams argued that the bill, by setting strict guidelines on the percent of funds that could be used in certain areas “could reduce flexibility from federal program and land managers to craft solutions to their site specific problems.”

Wagner said that the bill “affirms, backs, and supports many local efforts” at reducing invasive species populations. She said that the Forest Service already prioritized working with local groups on this issue, and that this bill would enhance those partnerships. Wagner did express concerns though that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) exemptions allowed by the bill were “overly broad.” The bill allows for the environmental assessments required by NEPA to be waived in “prioritized, high risk areas.”

Rep. Bishop introduced H.R. 3994 in February 2014. The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Horsford (D-NV) and Pearce (R-NM).

 


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