Idaho's Rep. Anderson helps form US-Canada alliance to help battle invasive species

Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, has been spreading the word about quagga mussels and other invasive species ever since he was elected eight years ago. He sponsored the law requiring boat inspections on Idaho's borders and the boat fee to finance it.

Now, Anderson, as co-chairman of the invasive species working group of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER), has taken another step, helping establish a regional invasive species council at PNWER. The group includes public officials and business representatives from Idaho, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Montana, and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

"By forming a regional invasive species council, policymakers can share limited resources and better prevent invasive species from moving in to the region," said Anderson in a news release from PNWER Friday. "By forming these partnerships, we know who to turn to, whether it's the neighboring state or across the border."

PNWER's annual summit was held this week in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. At least 10 Idaho lawmakers attended. (In my posting Monday, I named nine Idaho lawmakers. I later learned that a 10th lawmaker, Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, attended).

The PNWER news release follows:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 20, 2012

REGIONAL, U.S.-CANADA INVASIVE SPECIES COUNCIL FORMED

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.

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