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Highlights

Invasive weeds, native or nonnative plant species, cause harm to natural areas such as rangelands or wildlife habitat and economic impacts due to lost productivity of these areas. While the federal investment in combating invasive species is substantial most has been concentrated on agricultural lands, not on natural areas. In this report, GAO describes (1) the entities that address invasive weeds in natural areas and the funding sources they use; (2) federal, state, and local weed management officials' views on the barriers to weed management; and (3) their opinions about how additional resources for weed management could be distributed. GAO limited this study to entities in the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior, and California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, and Mississippi, and gathered information through interviews of over 90 weed management officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture To help ensure that the new program under the Noxious Weed Control and Eradication Act is implemented effectively, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the implementing agency to collaborate with other USDA and Interior agencies that have experience managing invasive weeds in developing the mechanisms for allocating funds to weed management entities.
Closed - Implemented
On September 20, 2005, the Secretary of USDA signed a Delegation of Authority giving APHIS the authority to implement the Noxious Weed Control and Eradication Act. The Final Rule on delegation was published in the Federal Register on September 23, 2005. APHIS has drafted an implementation plan for the Act. It includes a Request for Proposals and a proposed review and selection process (including representation by federal, state, tribal, and APHIS personnel, and possible representation, as deemed appropriation by APHIS, of non-governmental organizations and universities). The draft plan also includes provisions for state plant health regulatory authorities (or similar tribal authorities) to be included in the management of projects selected for funding within their boundaries. The draft implementation plan is on file at APHIS pending funding. The U.S. Department of the Interior and USDA (and other) agencies with whom APHIS cooperates as members of the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds, as well as other stakeholder groups, were consulted in preparing the draft plan. Further consultation may be needed to finalize the plan for APHIS management approval upon an appropriation of funds to the program.
Department of Agriculture To help ensure that the new program under the Noxious Weed Control and Eradication Act is implemented effectively, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the implementing agency to collaborate with other USDA and Interior agencies that have experience managing invasive weeds in determining what entities should receive such funding, using the agencies--along with other regional, state, and local experts--as technical advisers, as appropriate.
Closed - Not Implemented
On September 20, 2005, the Secretary of USDA signed a Delegation of Authority giving APHIS the authority to implement the Noxious Weed Control and Eradication Act. The Final Rule on delegation was published in the Federal Register on September 23, 2005. APHIS has drafted an implementation plan for the Act. It includes a Request for Proposals and a proposed review and selection process (including representation by federal, state, tribal, and APHIS personnel, and possible representation, as deemed appropriation by APHIS, of non-governmental organizations and universities). The draft plan also includes provisions for state plant health regulatory authorities (or similar tribal authorities) to be included in the management of projects selected for funding within their boundaries. The draft implementation plan on file at APHIS pending funding. According to APHIS, the U.S. Department of the Interior and USDA (and other) agencies with whom APHIS cooperates as members of the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds, as well as other stakeholder groups, were consulted in preparing the draft plan. According to APHIS, further consultation may be needed to finalize the plan for APHIS management approval upon an appropriation of funds to the program. However, as of August 2009, no funds have been appropriated. Therefore, APHIS has not made any funding decisions.

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