This week, the statewide council launched the new Washington Invasive Species Education (W.I.S.E.) Web site with the goal of educating people about invasive species and the damage they can do to the environment and economy, how invasive species spread and how everyone can help stop them. The Web site can be found at: www.wise.wa.gov/.
“By giving people information about invasive species, we hope they will help us prevent their spread and reduce the damage they cause,” said Bill Tweit, council chairman. “The Web site makes it easy for people to know what species to be on the lookout for when they are hiking, boating or just having fun outdoors.”
The site is customized so that people can find activities they do and learn about invasive species they likely will encounter, and what to do if they find them. For example, one section describes what trail hikers might see and another section gives advice to fish tank owners on how to dispose properly of their aquarium contents.
Invasive species are plants, animals and diseases that are not native to Washington and, once established here, cause environmental and economic damage. Without native predators, the invading species out compete local plants and animals for food and can alter the landscape, clog water pipes and destroy industries. Washington State spends, by conservative estimates, nearly $30 million every two years to prevent or eliminate invading species.
The new W.I.S.E. Web site was paid for with a grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
“Non-native species can be spread so easily – on hiking boots, car tires and in boats,” Tweit said. “Once they become established, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove. We really hope this Web site helps people become more aware of the simple things they can do, such as cleaning their hiking boots and washing off their boats, to help stop the spread of invasive species.”
The Legislature created the Washington Invasive Species Council in 2006 and tasked it with providing policy level direction, planning and coordination for combating harmful invasive species throughout the state and preventing the introduction of others that may be potentially harmful. For more information, visit the council’s Web site at www.invasivespecies.wa.gov.