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83 Efforts at invasive species control remain challenged by highly fragmented control efforts among multiple jurisdic- tions and agencies, usually with inadequate funding or per- sonnel dedicated to such purpose. Although invasive species travel by means of watersheds, vehicles, and by air, irre- spective of state borders, coordination of invasive species control efforts across state lines is uncommon. Inadequate funding is the primary obstacle faced by departments of transportation (DOTs). Most state DOTs con- sider widespread invasive species inventories and early detection and rapid response efforts to be beyond their means. Only 25% of responding DOTs have undertaken statewide roadside inventories for invasive species to assess what needs and challenges there are and the effectiveness of treatments over broader periods of time and space; another one-quarter of DOTs say they are unlikely to attempt such inventories. Many other DOTs are tackling smaller areas and working to train a wider range of DOT employees and con- tractors to identify invasive and noxious species and proper responses. One-quarter of the responding DOTs reported that they were impeded by the lack of templates or guidance on invasive species management. Executive Order (E.O.) 13112 has helped increase DOT awareness of and efforts to control invasive species. A number of DOTs have begun doing species surveys on construction projects, controlling infestations, and revege- tating with native species, with lower maintenance require- ments. Consideration of long-term maintainability and reduced costs during project development has been a key step in reducing the environmental and economic costs, as well as the overwhelming challenges to DOT maintenance. Teamwork and training for designing better, more easily maintainable roadsides is also key. Coordination among environmental, design and landscape architectural, and con- struction staff is increasing, addressing environmental impacts and eradication and control of invasive species before, during, and after construction. DOTs are taking a variety of steps to share information across division areas and professional specialties to address cross-cutting needs and to take a more integrated approach to invasive species control. Information is often exchanged informally; however, chief among the more formal communication approaches are organization-wide and district-specific integrated vegetation management plans. In addition to the growth of integrated planning, geographic information systems now enable the locations of weed patches to be stored digitally, and allow treatments to be tracked and assessed over time. Other tech- nological advances, such as innovative sprayers that can handle multiple herbicides and target individual invasive species, have allowed DOTs to simultaneously reduce herbi- cides, invasives, and labor costs. Highly effective, lower-tech communication mechanisms such as posters and laminated illustrations of various top pri- ority weeds are common as well. DOT landscape architects and roadside managers are developing session topics at statewide annual environmental, construction, and mainte- nance meetings. Training and awareness building, both for DOT employees and contractors, have been essential steps toward effective control of invasives, where this has occurred. GAPS IN AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR GREATER EFFECTIVENESS IN INVASIVE SPECIES CONTROL When asked what could facilitate more timely and effective (and simply greater) investment of resources to address the challenge of invasives, many DOTs cited a formalized plan, more funds, and dedicated personnel. Other needs identified are described here. DOT maintenance managers noted that neglecting the problem(s) presented by invasive species will lead to long- term environmental consequences and higher maintenance costs, and that failing to give high priority to invasive species control could be considered short-sighted. DOTs recom- mended the following, which are shared here to facilitate greater interagency communication and to leverage the progress that individual transportation agencies are making on areas of potential interest to others: â¢ A costâbenefit study that couples the problem to per- sonal and public consequences, including the harmful effects of invasives on the roadside environment. â¢ Better communication in data collection of species, more public education, legislative commitment and support, and funding. â¢ Upper management support and buy-in, policy, and greater priority in resource allocation. â¢ A state executive order similar to the federal E.O. 13112. A state weed board to work with counties to CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS
ensure that weed laws are enforced. Invasive species control to be defined and enforced in a way that accom- modates slower controls, such as biological control with insects or disease, and plant competition. Research on species origin and natural predators. DOTs also recommended greater financial resources and requirements that would effectively deliver greater financial resources. â¢ Additional resources and personnel focused on invasive species, rather than funding through a small portion of routine roadside management or project delivery. â¢ Dedicated funding of control efforts in maintenance and dedicated funding for roadside restoration and plant establishment in project development. â¢ Funding resources for inventory. â¢ More federal funding focused on landscaping, mainte- nance, and invasive species control and planning. â¢ Dedicated funds for informational materials such as posters, brochures, and laminated invasive species cards for the field. â¢ If DOTs can get 3 years of federal funding for land- scape establishment under federally funded construc- tion projects, they should be able to get 3 years for turf establishment to help address the higher maintenance costs of establishing native species. â¢ Legal requirements for restoration of disturbed areas. Inventory, tracking, planning, management, and reevalu- ationâversions of PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACTâwere identi- fied as key opportunity areas in advancing invasive species control. In particular, DOTs mentioned the following: â¢ Strategic planning, statewide management plans, and datasets. â¢ Species inventory, prioritization, and treatment plan- ning and timing. â¢ Activity numbers to increase ways of tracking methods, successful control of invasives, and costs. â¢ Addition of a Roadsides Division within the DOT. â¢ Attention to construction-related issues, including aggregate sources, topsoil management, and methods to relieve construction soil compaction. â¢ Development and use of replicable methodologies for assessing success. DOT respondents provided the following comments on control methods: â¢ Improved control techniques, especially biological controls. â¢ More research on cultural controls. â¢ Control and focus; that is, do it once, do it right, and move on. 84 â¢ Cooperation and cross-functional areas. Total involve- ment. Examples of interagency and external coordination were supplied by several DOTs: â¢ All of the stateâs departments (Transportation, Agricul- ture, Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries) dealing with invasive species should gather their resources to iden- tify the problems and address them in conjunction with each other. â¢ Statewide Invasive Species Council, advisory group, and regional work groups. â¢ Prompt control of new outbreaks on private property. â¢ National focus. DOT invasive species control staff also described areas in which their agency is in need of successful examples from others. This report addresses these issues and fills some of these gaps; however, this list is presented here in full to facil- itate assistance between DOTs. â¢ Examples in which a small staff has initiated and gen- erated statewide agency support for a control campaign for a specific invasive problem (Alabama). â¢ Examples of statewide invasive inventories and control strategies that have saved dollars and protected natural resources (Minnesota). â¢ Examples of cost savings, pavement preservation, or low-cost native plantings that resulted from controlling invasive species or implementing a department-wide invasive species control plan (Pennsylvania). â¢ Examples of how the invasive species programs can be effectively brought into the routine roadside manage- ment, yet quantified separately (California and Florida). â¢ Single treatment of invasive species by species, timing, and method and application rate could be very benefi- cial (California). â¢ Illustrations of upper departmental commitment and involvement (Arizona). â¢ Overcoming public aversion to the use of herbicides required as part of an Integrated Vegetation Manage- ment plan (Arkansas). â¢ Roadside species inventories and funding (Virginia). â¢ Better communications between agency divisions on what is being done and what could be done to help in control of invasive plants, insects, and animals (Florida). â¢ Program management with limited resources (New Mexico). â¢ Funded plans to manage invasive species (Indiana). â¢ Practical, efficient, and cost-effective control methods given limited funds (Illinois, New York, and Ohio). â¢ Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) control (Arkansas). â¢ Selective grazing weed control examples (Wyoming). â¢ Examples of cost-effective and small-budget partner- ships to successfully combat invasives (Connecticut).
85 â¢ Acquiring funding and resources to address these prob- lems (Louisiana). â¢ Examples of revegetation with natives in arid environ- ments (Nevada). â¢ Before and after photographs (New Hampshire). â¢ Attention and involvement from design and construc- tion departments (Texas). ESTIMATING BENEFITS OF INVASIVE SPECIES CONTROL To date, the benefits of invasive species control have been lit- tle quantified by DOTs. Roadside managers are well aware of the costs of ignoring invasives and the greater herbicide and mowing expenses that can be incurred, but express a par- ticular need for examples where statewide invasive invento- ries and control strategies have saved money and protected natural resources. Most of the evidence is anecdotal. Invasive species such as kudzu can obliterate stop signs with safety consequences. DOTs cited reduced maintenance and mow- ing cycles with reductions of invasive species, and provided the following examples of streamlining and cost reductions from invasive species control: â¢ In Arizona, the I-40 Camelthorn (Alhagi maurorum) control project assisted Arizona DOT maintenance in the preservation of highway integrity, at a cost savings exceeding $1 million per lane-mile. â¢ Costs of not treating invasives have been verified in Florida. The two species Florida DOT maintenance identifies and monitors were treated to the right-of-way limits, only to have it spread back to the right-of-way from adjacent untreated property. â¢ Cost savings from treatment has been verified in Iowa. Controlling a small, isolated infestation of spotted knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii) on the right-of- way resulted in containing its spread throughout the area. This resulted in cost savings insofar as additional areas did not need to be treated. â¢ In Louisiana, the reduction of itchgrass (Rottboellia cochinchinensis) in southwestern Louisiana has re- duced the annual mowing frequency. â¢ New Hampshire is in the process of calculating data in this area. â¢ With New York State DOT, invasive species control activities led directly to the development and issuance of a General Permit by the Adirondack Park Agency for certain control practices that previously required an individual permit with lengthy reviews and public com- ment periods. â¢ In Wyoming, the long-term commitment of Wyoming DOT divisions and County Weed partners to a true inte- grated weed management system has resulted in the lowest herbicide expenditures by any DOT in the nation (i.e., less than $1 million in herbicide expenditure annu- ally on a 7,000 mi system). DOTs shared a number of ideas and suggestions for achieving better estimates of the benefits of invasive species control: â¢ By the acre and in terms of reduction of maintenance costs, need for mowing, and erosion and sedimenta- tion control treatments and less herbicide use over time. â¢ By sampling and monitoring specific sites tracking species treated, including size and density, treatment, and habitat (other species present). Evaluate data collected annually to determine if there is a reduction or elimination of the invasive species and if there is a change in the habitat composition as a result of treatment. â¢ Track the total cost of the actual control effort, includ- ing inventory, training, materials, equipment, person- hours and monitoring of effectiveness and subsequent control costs. This will help determine what the con- trols cost in relation to environmental and societal ben- efits provided. â¢ Estimate damages and costs to mitigate or restore native vegetation. Estimate loss of previous and potential value of land infested with invasive species based on the extent of infestation and how that affects land use or cost to recover. Estimates could include potential for spread, rate of spread, and potential loss of value of land estimated to be affected. â¢ Quantify the dollar value from losses in tourism and agriculture. â¢ Quantify the benefits of biodiversity, species richness, and suitable habitat and for people, fewer environmen- tal contaminants and better service to and public rela- tions with adjacent property owners. â¢ Tracking public complaints; the absence of weed con- trol becomes evident very quickly. â¢ Track compliance with sister agenciesâ goals. Although the lack of metrics has made it difficult for DOT maintenance managers to make the case for significant increases in investment in invasive species management, asset management principles and documentation of life-cycle costs incurred by the failure to prevent the spread of invasive species through DOT actions throughout the project devel- opment, construction, and maintenance process can begin to fill this gap. FURTHER NEEDS AND RESEARCH AREAS DOTs were clear that funding is a primary need and that a stronger federal role in this area would be helpful. SAFETEA-LU offers no additional funding, although inva- sive species control is increasingly eligible for support through existing funds allocations. SAFETEA-LU does require DOTs to coordinate with state and local government conservation plans.
Additional research needs suggested included: â¢ DOT methods and experience in evaluating and enforc- ing the use of invasive species prevention practices dur- ing construction, including: â Effective use of existing contract provisions. â Impact of low-bid methods on priorities incidental to roadway construction such as invasive species con- trol and inspection. â¢ Specific guidelines, policies, and templates for Inte- grated Roadside Vegetation Management planning and challenges such as poor soil, compacted soils, and dis- turbed and degraded roadsides. â¢ DOT methods and systems for tracking system for seg- ments of right-of-way that come under federal funding for purposes of compliance with E.O. 13112 at any given time and that also facilitate tracking of the reveg- etation process and status and effective hand-off of maintenance responsibilities. â¢ Identification of methods and best practices in design and performance of roadside inventories, including 86 modification of existing enterprise geographic informa- tion and maintenance management systems. â¢ Strategic planning, budgeting, and timing treatment and equipment. Examples are needed of how the invasive species programs can be effectively brought into rou- tine roadside management, yet quantified separately. â¢ Cultural and biological control methods for invasive species. â¢ Models for communication and building awareness, support, and involvement within the agency and among partners. â¢ Development of fast and practical ways to exchange efficient and cost-effective control and revegetation methods given limited funds. DOTs are still documenting and proving the business case for investing in greater invasive species control. Therefore, better costâbenefit information, to demonstrate that the value and urgency of timely response to infestations is a primary need as well, is discussed in greater detail in the following section.