HELENA – More than 60 people including biologists, landowners, and policymakers gathered in Helena on Wednesday for the Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative Montana Workshop.
Hosted by the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), the workshop focused on early detection and rapid response when responding to invasive species.
“Invasive species and their associated impacts present one of the great environmental and economic threats to our western landscapes,” warned Governor Steve Bullock in his keynote address. “It can impact every aspect of life in the West from agriculture to forestry to species conservation, recreation economies, and tourism.”
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WGA representatives said the goal of the event is to form unified, nonpartisan policies for combating invasive species on both the state and federal levels.
Several panels were held during the workshop with topics ranging from invasive mussels to monitoring invasive species infestations.
“The intent is to really come together on some of the most vexing issues that we face throughout the West and say how can we meaningfully move the needle,” said Gov. Bullock.
Gov. Bullock established the Montana Invasive Species Advisory Council in 2014 through executive order to better combat foreign species in the state, educate the public about them, and be better prepared for the arrival of new invasive species.
“Our efforts have certainly underscored to me that while prevention always has to be the first line of defense, it can’t be the only line of defense,” said Bullock. “Fundamentally, early detection and rapid response has to be as well thought out or even better thought out.”
Bullock also noted that having a nonpartisan plan to address invasive species throughout the West helps everyone.
“What one of our partners are doing, one of our neighbor states, and what we’re doing in Montana has an impact far beyond just the borders of this one-hundred and forty-thousand square mile state,” said Bullock. “And that’s why you really have to take an all landscape, regional approach when you’re dealing with invasive species.”
Wednesday’s conference is one of four workshops the WGA is holding throughout the region to address invasive species.
The next event is in Kona Coast, Hawaii on December 9 and December 10 and will focus on biosecurity and agriculture. Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative is the Chairman’s Initiative of Hawaii Governor David Ige.
Click here to view a full list of reported invasive species in Montana.
-John Riley reporting for MTN News