11:30 a.m., Thursday, July 19
REGIONAL, U.S.-CANADA INVASIVE SPECIES TASKFORCE FORMED
Rep. Eric Anderson (R-ID) holds a license plate full of quagga mussels, one of the main targets of Pacific NorthWest Economic Region's new bi-national council that brings together state and provincial leaders in government and industry to tackle regional threats from invasive species.
Government and industry leaders from western Canada and Pacific Northwest United States announced they will form a regional, bi-national invasive species council at the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) Summit Wednesday in Saskatoon.
State and provincial invasive species councils can only work within their own borders, but invasive species, such as quagga mussels, know no boundaries. They may inflict harm on local ecosystems by eating the phytoplankton fish need to survive, for example, thus depriving fishermen of their livelihoods.
Additionally, they can plug water intake valves, shutting down industry. In this way, invasive species may have disastrous implications for the economy, and not just from lost work. The cost to control these invaders from spreading can cost taxpayers millions. If quagga mussels were introduced into the Columbia River, the price tag would come out to more than $25 million, according to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
"By forming a regional invasive species council, policymakers can share limited resources and better prevent invasive species from moving in to the region," said Rep. Eric Anderson (R-ID), the public-sector co-chair of PNWER's invasive species working group. "By forming these partnerships, we know who to turn to, whether it's the neighboring state or across the border."
The invasive species working group, responsible for the formation of this regional council, meets every year at the broader PNWER annual summit. This event brings together leaders from 10 jurisdictions (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Northwest Territories and Yukon) to address the pressing threats to this "economic region." The working group is co-chaired by Rep. Anderson and Mark Sytsma, Associate Vice President for Research at Portland State University.