Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council

ORGANIZE INFORMALLY WITH SOUTHEAST AQUATIC RESOURCES PARTNERSHIP (SARP). Marilyn Barrett-O'Leary, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA (


Invasive species are part of everyday business for a diverse group of people including agriculturists, aquaculturists, pet and garden importers, wholesalers and retailers, and some state and federal agencies. They affect activities of many more, including recreational fishers and boaters, boatyards, industrial crews, city and state utility crews, and ecotourism operators. Even realtors and highway maintenance crews can be affected by them. Invasive species management is essential to maintain positive and control negative effects on the social, economic, physical health of society. Because EPPC is one of the leading organizations encouraging management of invasive species, it is an essential partner for SARP in management of aquatic invasive plants.

The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership is a formal partnership of 21 state wildlife, fish, and conservation agencies in 13 southeastern states along with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries (NMFS), the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic fisheries management councils, and the Gulf States Fisheries Commission. Its mission is the coordinated management and advocacy of aquatic resources (including habitats) by building upon existing programs and making efficient use of human and fiscal resources. Prevention and control of all types of aquatic invasive species is one of the six areas of concern for SARP, and its first invasive species goal is to develop aquatic invasive species management plans in each of the thirteen member states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas).

SARP's concern with the aquatic environment stems from the fact that the southeast region of the U.S. is one of the most species-rich areas in the temperate zone, with diverse environments and some evolutionary isolation (1, p.255). From Virginia to Texas, the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico, this region is dominated by aquatic ecosystems that are part of 47 percent of the nation's wetlands and 78 percent of its coastal marshes (2). The region's major river basins and 26,000 miles of shoreline provide habitat for 65 percent of the nation's freshwater fish species (1, p. 296). More aquatic nonindigenous species have succeeded in this region than any other, possibly because of the temperate and subtropical climate, abundant surface water, huge transportation corridors - two of the nation's largest inland waterways linked by inland waterway to four of the top 10 international shipping ports in the country (3) - and a network of highways linking the whole country to an international airport that is one of the largest importers of exotic plants.

Control of invasive species in all environments is essential to maintain existing biodiversity and to protect native ecosystems. Although many of these ecosystems extend beyond state boundaries, their care is the major responsibility of one or more state political entities. Regional cooperation and partnership are logical ways to facilitate management and control under these circumstances.

Timing and communication are the keys to developing a management plan in each southeastern state. SARP secured a grant to fund a full-time coordinator for the group, and each member state appointed an individual to lead the state effort during 2004-2007. These individuals opened communication with one another by telephone and e-mail, and are using SARP membership, as well as participation in the Gulf and South Atlantic Regional ANS Panel and the Mississippi River Basin Panel on ANS to achieve the project goal. Open communication encourages similarities in management plan format, cooperation between neighboring states, and improved effectiveness of control and prevention measures.

Most of the states are forming stakeholder work groups to collaborate on the plan's content, and most are following online guidelines provided by the National Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force. Participation in each state by a member of an EPPC state chapter or someone from the southeast EPPC is desirable. EPPC has already identified many of the invasive plants in many of the southeastern states and/or watersheds, and it is already working with some of the same people who will work on invasive species management in each state. Expansion of this informal partnership increases the effectiveness of many of the elements of invasive species management plans - more accurate identification of problem-species and -pathways, efficient use of available funds for prevention and control, and broad access to appropriate segments of the general public. Through a variety of mechanisms, the work groups are identifying native and problem species, new infestations, and possible invasion pathways within their state boundaries. SARP members are sharing information with their counterparts who share responsibilities for common watersheds, wildlife, fish and/or plant species. Individual members of EPPC would improve the quality of these results.

Completion and acceptance of an aquatic invasive species plan by the national task force opens the door for each state to apply for federal assistance in implementing the management plan. A management plan identifies the situation and lists needs for prevention and control. It sets priorities and encourages or provides mechanisms to overcome overlapping or conflicting jurisdictions. Implementation, which is ongoing, needs regional and state partnerships to maximize the result from time and dollar expenditures.

This project's goal is completion of as many as possible (if not all 13) management plans by the end of 2007. This paper will report on progress to date towards that goal and on selected AIS prevention and control successes and challenges resulting from regional partnership.


(1) Mac, M.J., P.A. Opter, C.E. Puckett Haecker, and P.D. Doran. 1998. "Southeast" in Status and Trends of the Nation's Biological Resources. Two volumes. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston VA.

(2) Keeland, B.D., J.A. Allen and V.R. Burkett. 1995. "Southern Forested Wetlands" in Our Living Resources: A Report to the Nation on the Distribution, Abundance, and Health of U.S. Plants, Animals, and Ecosystems. E.T. LaRoe, G.S. Farris and P.T. Doran, Eds. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Service, Washington, D.C.

(3) Benson, A.J., P.L. Fuller and C.C. Jacono. 2001. Summary Report of Nonindigenous Aquatic Species in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 4. U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Caribbean Science Center, Gainesville, FL.

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