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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 14, 2004

Contact: Peter Boger
(609) 984-1795

DEP ANNOUNCES NEW INVASIVE SPECIES POLICY DIRECTIVE

Will Prohibit Planting of Non-native Species on State Lands

(04/120) TRENTON -- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced a new policy directive prohibiting the planting of non-native species on state lands. The initiative will help to reduce the spread of invasive species that choke out New Jersey's natural flora and threaten wetlands and waterways.

"State agencies need to lead by example and stop planting invasive species on lands that we manage," said Commissioner Campbell. "This is a small, but important step in our long-term struggle to address this significant threat to New Jersey's rich natural heritage."

Under the policy directive, Commissioner Campbell is ordering DEP employees and DEP consultants and contractors not to use invasive, nonindigenous plant species in planning and implementing plantings, landscaping and land management activities such as habitat restoration and reforestation on state lands and waters.

Included in the policy directive is an advisory list that will be periodically updated, which enumerates invasive plant species that have already been identified by the DEP as unsuitable for planting. The list to date includes 20 tree species, 40 shrub species, 15 vine species, 66 herb species, and 16 grass and sedge species.

The McGreevey Administration has been aware of and confronting the problem of invasive species for some time. In July 2003, the Final Report of the New Jersey Comparative Risk Project identified invasive species, including plants, insects and other organisms, as one of the top four environmental problems facing New Jersey. In 2004, Governor James E. McGreevey signed an executive order forming an Invasive Species Council charged with submitting an Invasive Species Management Plan for the state next year.

There are more than 1,200 nonindigenous plants in New Jersey that have been introduced accidentally or intentionally mostly from Europe and Asia. Because these tend to have few if any natural predators or parasites on this continent, they are aggressive competitors for space and nutrients in New Jersey's natural areas. Invasive species also threaten New Jersey's agricultural resources through lost production and marketability for agricultural products. Nationally, damage from invasive species costs is estimated at $123 billion annually.

Invasive species often form dense stands or thickets that crowd out native vegetation. Harmful invasive species not only threaten plant biodiversity but also affect wildlife that depend on the displaced native species for food. Invasive species alter and potentially harm the structure, composition and function of natural ecosystems.

A report entitled An Overview of Nonindigenous Plant Species in New Jersey is available on the DEP's Web site at http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/natural/heritage/InvasiveReport.pdf.

A copy of the Commissioner's policy directive is available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/commissioner/policy/index.html.

 

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