Group Seeks Funding for Battle Against Invasive Species

Assessment shows lack of money is one of the biggest obstacles to protecting Montana's environment

By Dillon Tabish

HELENA — An assessment of invasive species management by the Montana Invasive Species Advisory Council said a lack of money is one of the biggest obstacles to protecting Montana’s environment from noxious weeds and other unwanted biological invaders.

The council was created by a Gov. Steve Bullock in 2014. A Governor’s Summit on Invasive species will be held April 12 and 13 in Helena, followed by development of a statewide action plan by the end of the year.

“Montana’s vast outdoor recreation and wide-open spaces are an important part of what makes Montana great and they play a crucial role in our growing economy,” Bullock said in a statement. “The threat of invasive species to our land, water, native species, and economy is real, and I will always fight to protect them.”

The council includes federal, state, county and tribal agencies, along with environmentalists and private landowners.

The initial report recommends finding ways of early detection and rapid response. It also recommends setting priorities and incentives for private landowners who participate.

The group also wants the public to help, the Helena Independent Record reported.

“Education and awareness are always a challenge, but I think we have a very interested public in Montana that is very aware of these issues going on. These aren’t just agency problems, they’re issues that the public has to deal with and make sure they have a role in invasive species management,” council Chair Bryce Christiaens said.

Chair Tom Boos, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks aquatic invasive species coordinator, said Montana is relatively free of aquatic invasive species compared to many other states.

“In the aquatic world, we don’t have a huge problem like in the Midwest where every lake has some sort of problem,” he said. “So sometimes it’s hard to convey just how bad it can be unless you can see it.”

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