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DOT logo Memorandum
U.S. Department
of Transportation


Policy Statement on Invasive Alien Species

Date: April 22, 1999


The Secretary


Secretarial Officers
Heads of Operating Administrations

On February 3, 1999, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13112, which calls on Executive Branch agencies to work to prevent and control the introduction and spread of invasive species.

Nonnative flora and fauna can cause significant changes to ecosystems, upset the ecological balance, and cause serious economic harm to our nation's agricultural and recreational sectors. For example, in Guam, the brown tree snake, which was introduced from New Guinea by military aircraft during World War II, eliminated 9 of 11 species of native birds, has inflicted harmful bites, and, by climbing on power lines and into electronic equipment, has caused major power outages. Zebra mussels introduced into the Great Lakes in the ballast water of cargo ships have colonized water pipes, boat hulls, and other surfaces, wreaking havoc on water systems, transportation, and native shellfish. Introduced plants, such as kudzu in the southeastern states and purple loosestrife in the north, have choked out native plant species and, through them, wildlife and fish.

The Department of Transportation has been in the forefront of our national efforts to prevent and control the introduction of invasive species. The Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation cooperate with the international community to prevent and control the introduction and spread of invasive aquatic species to the nation's waterways. The Federal Highway Administration works with other federal agencies and state governments to combat the introduction and spread of invasive species. The Federal Aviation Administration cooperates with other federal and state agencies in developing a comprehensive strategy to reduce the risk of introducing invasive species at airports in Hawaii; cooperates in federal research for screening baggage, cargo, and passengers; and protects native species in the management of its facilities and FAA-funded and licensed facilities throughout the country. The Federal Railroad Administration works with other federal agencies to reduce the risk from invasive species, including cooperating with the Department of Agriculture to lessen the opportunity for spreading karnal bunt, a serious crop disease, across international borders.

At its recently held triennial meeting, the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted a resolution, which was drafted by the Department, that will enable ICAO to assist other United Nations agencies in preventing the introduction of invasive species. The Assembly also called on its 185-member nations to support efforts to reduce the risk of introducing, through civil air transportation, potentially invasive species to areas outside the species' natural range.

I commend these efforts; however, the problem is formidable. Therefore, I direct the Secretarial offices and operating administrations to implement Executive Order 13112 by adhering to the attached policy statement.

Questions and feedback should be directed to Deirdre Remley (deirdre.remley@dot.gov, 202-366-0524).

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