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January 4, 2010

Federal Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force approves S.C. Aquatic Invasive Species Plan

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources is proud to announce that the South Carolina Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan has received approval from the Federal Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force.  The Task Force consists of 10 Federal agency representatives and 12 Ex-officio members, and is co-chaired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The ANS Task Force acts as a coordinating body in developing and implementing the national program for prevention, research, monitoring and control of infestations of aquatic invasive species.  The Task Force is further charged with developing and implementing a program to prevent the introduction and dispersal of aquatic invasive species in U.S. waters, to monitor, conduct control and research of such species, and to disseminate information regarding aquatic invasive species. 
The South Carolina Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Plan was developed over a two-year period by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in close collaboration with the South Carolina AIS Task Force.  The South Carolina AIS Task Force was informally established in July, 2006 to facilitate communication about AIS among public and private organizations and to assist in developing a statewide AIS Management Plan.  The AIS Task Force is composed of representatives from 30 federal and state agencies, academic institutions, public and private electric utilities, and several nongovernmental organizations. 
The recommendations included in the AIS Plan are consistent with actions in other states to support national efforts to prevent and control AIS problems in public waters.  State management plans foster intrastate communication and coordination among appropriate state and federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations.  This coordination often qualifies states for potential grants for prevention and control programs. 

Successful management of non-native AIS is one of the most pressing issues in the field of natural resource management in the country.  Failure to properly manage AIS results in dramatic changes in plant and animal community structure and dynamics.  These changes can affect recreational boating, fishing and hunting.  Further, economic impacts include clogging municipal drinking water intakes and limiting hydroelectric power production.  Public health impacts such as increased potential for disease transfer can result from increased populations of mosquitoes and various other disease vectors.
In a recent article for the Patagonia Corporation, Joe Starinchak of the USFWS stated, "As one of the most challenging and complex environmental issues impacting our fisheries worldwide, AIS are reducing game fish populations, fouling pristine waters and ruining recreational equipment, while making lakes and rivers unusable for all aquatic recreation users.  Additionally, these harmful species are dramatically increasing the operating costs of everyday things we all take for granted – like drinking water plants – and are reducing property values and negatively affecting local economies of water-dependent communities.  Perhaps, most importantly they are reducing native species populations, ultimately degrading ecosystems."
With the approval of the Federal ANS Task Force, South Carolina's AIS plan and invasive species management programs can become an integrated part of multi-state and federal efforts that will address the issue of invasive species management on a regional scale.

South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state's economy. Find out why Life's Better Outdoors.

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