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WGA initiative to focus on invasives

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In a kick-off webinar on July 12, Hawaii Governor and current chair of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) David Ige announced his Chairman’s Initiative Biosecurity and Invasive Species, saying, “The spread of invasive species continues to be one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the western governors and the entire country.” 

“Chairs of WGA have the prerogative to commit substantial resources of WGA to a particular project, issue or initiative, and Gov. Ige has chosen to focus on bio-security and invasive species,” said WGA Executive Director James Ogsbury. “As the apparatus of the federal government has grown larger, less nimble, more divisive and more dysfunctional, more and more people are looking to individual states and their governors for real leadership and for solutions to the problems that are facing the region and our nation.” 

With WGA at the helm of addressing invasive species issues, Ige sees the potential to mitigate the challenges caused by invasive species.

“I believe, through collaboration and sharing best practices, we can all find common ground to overcome these obstacles together,” Ige commented.

Local challenges

Ige said the issue of invasive species impacts his home state of Hawaii, a state which is completely isolated from other states. 

“Hawaii is truly the testing grounds for invasive species management, as we see the impacts of our management very close to home,” he said. “While our state comprises less than three percent of the land area in the U.S., we are home to 28 percent of all threatened and endangered species in the nation and 78 percent of all U.S. species extinction in the U.S. Invasives are major driver of the species loss.”

At the same time, disease is an important contributor to species loss, which means improved biosecurity is critical. Biosecurity areas include pre-border, border and post-border responses to protect against invasives. 

Big issue

“As chair of WGA, I chose biosecurity and invasive species as my initiative to bring this same collaborative approach to a West-wide scale,” Ige said. 

Ige’s initiative will focus on the impacts of nuisance species, pests and pathogens on ecosystems, forests, rangelands, watersheds and infrastructure, also examining the role of biosecurity in addressing invasive species management. 

“We will accomplish our goals through a series of webinars and workshops throughout the western region,” he explained. “The workshops will provide a forum to examine biosecurity and invasive species issues, assess developing threats, survey best practices and investigate emerging technologies that will help protect western lands and economies from the spread of non-native species.”

Next steps

Ige announced regional workshops to be held in Lake Tahoe, Nev. on Sept. 17-18 to discuss prevention, control and management of established species; in Cheyenne on Oct. 11-12 to discuss restoration; in Helena, Mont. on Nov. 11 to discuss early detection and rapid response; and in Kona Coast, Hawaii on Dec. 12 to discuss biosecurity and agriculture. A series of webinars in 2019 will provide further examination of issues discussed in the workshops.

“The outcome of the initiative’s workshops and webinars, along with best practices, case studies and policy recommendations will be published in a report,” Ige said, “and the report will be used to guide WGA’s future policies and work related to invasive species. I wish us fruitful and productive conversations on this issue.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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