Kind Legislation to Combat Invasive Species in Wildlife Refuges Advances to House Floor
As Part of Refuge Week, Committee Passes REPAIR Act Establishing
Comprehensive Approach to #1 Refuge Threat
Washington, D.C. – The House Natural Resources Committee today unanimously passed H.R. 787, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind’s Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, & Immediate Response (REPAIR) Act, advancing the bill that would combat the growing and costly problem of invasive species in the nation’s wildlife refuges to the House floor for a vote.
“Invasive species are the number one ecological and economic threat to our refuges,” Rep. Kind said. “The backlog for basic maintenance projects at our wildlife refuges is already in the billions of dollars, and if we don’t allocate specific funds to combat this problem, the quality and longevity of our refuges will be at risk. By providing grants for both immediate response and long-term eradication of invasives, the REPAIR Act will bring a needed infusion of funding and energy to this issue, which affects all refuges, including those in our own backyard.”
The backlog for specifically combating invasive species is the fastest-growing portion of the National Wildlife Refuge budget, reaching nearly $391 million. These expenses are cutting deeply into already stretched refuge operations and maintenance budgets. The REPAIR Act begins to address this crisis in the nation’s refuge system by providing voluntary REPAIR grants to states, local governments, regional agencies or individuals to fund the planning, execution, and maintenance of projects to remove harmful nonnative species.
“Invasive species present a unique danger for refuges,” Rep. Kind said. “Refuges have been set apart because they are critical for the survival of treasured wildlife species, particularly threatened and endangered species. These are the animals most in danger of facing extinction, so changes to their habitat or threats from foreign organisms could be potentially devastating to them. If these places are indeed meant to be refuges for wildlife, we have a special obligation to guard against invasives.”
Species that are considered invasive the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish include the purple loosestrife, black locust and zebra mussels.