DoD Biodiversity Conservation Handbook
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Chapter 7: Invasive Species Management on Military Lands


As with any land manager today, the military's first line of defense against invasive species must be prevention of new invasions and preventing expansion of existing invaders. The military already has many policies in place to aid in prevention, such as DoD's Customs and Border Clearance Program Regulations (, but consistent funding is needed in order for prevention programs to be successful. Since funding is often linked to an installation's Integrated Natural ResourcesManagement Plan (INRMP), prevention of invasive species should always be considered in the INRMP, along with early detection, rapid response, and long-term management of invasives.

Perhaps the most important weapon in the fight against invasive species on any installation is outreach and partnerships. Installations such as Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, have enlisted the help of citizen volunteers in controlling numerous invasive plants, such as garlic mustard and leafy spurge. Staff at the Wisconsin fort have reached out to local stakeholders and developed partnerships to educate the community about the harmful impacts of invasive species on and off base. These partnerships have even aided Fort McCoy with bringing in funding for their efforts, through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's "Pulling Together Initiative" (see which provides grants for public and private partnerships to combat invasive species (Westbrook and Ramos 2005). The military can also form very beneficial partnerships with conservation organizations and invasive species researchers, to share resources, information, and best practices in the battle against invasives (see The military has teamed with nongovernmental organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy, to combat some of the nation's worst invaders, such as tamarisk or salt cedar.

The control of fire ants at Camp Bullis, Texas, requires extraordinary care because the infected areas provide habitat for several endangered invertebrate species. Therefore pesticides can not be used safely and superheated water is used to kill the ants. The U.S. Fish andWildlife Service must be consulted before using any pesticide that may affect an endangered species. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

Not only do installation natural resources managers need to look outside their borders to form partnerships, but they also should look to their own operational forces as partners in controlling invasive species. In some cases, management of invasive species can be aided by training activities, such as on theMarine Corps Base Hawai‘i, where Marines help clear out invasive pickleweed by running their amphibious assault vehicles over the invaded mudflats, helping to improve the habitat for native species such as the endangered Hawaiian stilt while simultaneously improving the training ranges for military maneuvers (Westbrook and Ramos 2005).

Managers of lands invaded by undesirable species also must consider native biodiversity and the entire ecosystem. When addressing the problem of invasive species in an INRMP, natural resources managers should always consider what they are managing for, not only what they are managing against. For example, in some cases, restoration efforts are necessary after invasive species have been removed from an area. Moreover, when managers think holistically, they are more likely to minimize any harmful environmental impacts of invasive species control efforts. Herbicides and biocontrols can be very useful management tools in some situations, but any potentially harmful side effects also must be examined, and the benefits weighed against the possible long-term costs. Partnering with other public and private land managers and with researchers in universities who have expertise in invasive species control can be critical for military natural resources managers seeking and testing the most cost effective and least environmentally harmful invasive species control methods.

Through sharing knowledge and expertise about invasive species prevention and management within the military, and among the military and various public and private partners, the battle against invasive species must continue in order to protect training lands from degradation and to safeguard the rich native biodiversity that occurs on military lands across the country.

Proceed to Next Section: The Effects of Natural and Man-Made Disturbances

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Troy Weldy is an invasive species specialist with The Nature Conservancy.

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