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Invasive Weeds Pose Major Threat To American Landscape

Wrong time, wrong place. Accidentally and on purpose, America is sowing seeds -- literal seeds -- of destruction. These are the conclusions of a soon-to-be-published book examining weeds in the United States.

"The invasion of noxious weeds has created a level of destruction to America?s environment and economy that is matched only by the damage caused by floods, earthquakes, wildfire, hurricanes and mudslides, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt said. This is truly an explosion in slow motion by opportunistic alien species with few if any natural enemies.

A multi-agency committee on invasive weeds found that the march of non-native plants across the American landscape is so pervasive that the unique differences of regional plant communities are blurring. Their report, "Invasive Plants: Changing the Landscape of America," is a systematic attempt, involving 17 partner agencies, to define the seriousness of the problem. The report will be available for public distribution this summer.

Invasive non-native plants, the book says, are now considered by some experts to be the second-most important threat to native species, behind habitat destruction.

"This fact book will help readers understand the scope and magnitude of the problem. We hope it will encourage them to act, to help us control the invaders that are already here and prevent future invasions,? Babbitt continued. ?People are carrying plants or their seeds from the far reaches of the globe into every corner of our nation to compete with -- often to destroy-- the wonderful variety that nature once gave us.?

Over the past decade, the report says, devastating impacts from invasive species have been reported on every continent except Antarctica. In the United States, introduced invasive plants comprise from 8 to 47 percent of the total flora of most states, a figure especially alarming considering a
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Contact: Duncan Morrow
Duncan_Morrow@usgs.gov
703/648-4221
United States Geological Survey
28-Apr-1998


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