California creates Invasive Species Council committee

Gov. Jerry Brown signs AB 2470, which creates a working group to address environmental issue, into law.

SACRAMENTO — Eradicating invasive species from California’s waterways has become a priority for state legislators, so much so they worked to create an entirely new committee to address the issue.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2470 (AB 2470) as one of his final acts as California’s chief executive. The bill created a new committee – California Invasive Species Advisory Committee – for the Invasive Species Council of California. A prescribed membership would sit on the committee to spearhead invasive species prevention and eradication efforts.

The council and committee would specifically advise other state agencies how to “facilitate coordinated, complementary, and cost-effective control or eradication of invasive species that have entered or are already established in the state,” according to AB 2470.

“The bill would authorize the council to establish advisory committees and ad hoc working groups, including the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee, with a prescribed membership, to advise the council on a broad array of issues related to preventing the introduction of invasive species and providing for their control or eradication,” language of AB 2470 stated.

“The bill would require the council to coordinate with state and local public agencies, publicly funded educational institutions, and stakeholder groups to develop a plan for the cure or suppression of diseases associated with the spread of invasive shot hole borers,” AB 2470 continued.

AB 2470 limits the council’s efforts to preventing the introduction of invasive species and combating areas already infected by the environmental phenomenon.

Invasive species, according to California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, are “organisms (plants, animals or microbes) that are not native to an environment, and once introduced, they establish, quickly reproduce and spread, and cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health.”

Combating invasive species was a priority in this year’s state budget, according to AB 2470 author Tim Grayson, a Democratic Assembly member from the San Francisco Bay Area.

The current fiscal year budget allocated $2 million to fight against the spread of invasive species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and other waterways, Grayson said.

“Invasive species threaten the diversity or abundance of native species through competition for resources, predation, parasitism, interbreeding with native populations, transmitting diseases, or causing physical or chemical changes to the invaded habitat,” DFW staff stated in an informational statement about the environmental phenomenon. “Examples of direct impacts to human activities include clogging navigable waterways and water delivery systems, weakening flood control structures, damaging crops, introducing diseases to animals that are raised or harvested commercially, and diminishing sportfish populations.”

Several organizations – such as Bolsa Chica Land Trust, California Invasive Plant Council, California Urban Forests Council, California Wildlife Association, Channel Islands Restoration, The Nature Conservancy and the L.A. chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, among others – formally expressed support of AB 2470.

“Invasive species damage our water resources, fire safety, agricultural productivity, recreation opportunities, and unique wildlife. As you know, unless invasive species problems are detected early and addressed promptly, they spread and become extremely expensive to manage,” the collective of supporting organizations stated in a formal support letter to the State Senate a few months ago.

The Invasive Species Council of California was established in 2009; its focus, according to a legislative analysis of AB 2470, is to “keep invasive species out of the state, find invasions before permanent establishment occurs and take steps to eradicate early populations of unwanted species.”

Legislative analyses from the Assembly and State Senate both stated the fiscal effect of AB 2470 was unknown, though cost pressures could be “in the millions of dollars from the [state’s] General Fund.”

Grayson’s bill handily passed out of the State Senate (39-0) and Assembly (78-0).

Photo: Division of Boating and Waterways


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