Invasive Species


Eldorado NF, looking down toward Caples Lake, darker forested areas burned in the Caldor Fire.


Invasive species have been identified by the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service as one of the four significant threats to our Nation’s forest and rangeland ecosystems.

In response to this identified threat, a multidisciplinary team of specialists, managers, and researchers has worked together to produce a National Strategy and Implementation Plan for Invasive Species Management.

The goal of the USDA Forest Service invasive species program is to reduce, minimize, or eliminate the potential for introduction, establishment, spread, and impact of invasive species across all landscapes and ownerships.

What is an Invasive Species?

Invasive species have been characterized as a “catastrophic wildfire in slow motion.” Thousands of non-native invasive plants, insects, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, pathogens, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have infested hundreds of millions of acres of land and water across the Nation, causing massive disruptions in ecosystem function, reducing biodiversity, and degrading ecosystem health in our Nation’s forests, prairies, mountains, wetlands, rivers, and oceans. Invasive organisms affect the health of not only the Nation’s forests and rangelands but also of wildlife, livestock, fish, and humans.

A species is considered invasive if it meets these two criteria:

  1. It is nonnative to the ecosystem under consideration, and
  2. Its introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human, animal, or plant health.

These criteria are derived from Executive Order 13112, issued on February 3, 1999, which established the National Invasive Species Council and Executive Order 13751, issued on December 8, 2016.

Management of invasive species within the Forest Service occurs within a framework of laws, regulations, directives, and plans. In 2011 the Forest Service developed a new section to the Forest Service Manual (FSM) under code 2900, entitled Invasive Species Management. This FSM 2900 sets forth National Forest System policy, responsibilities, and direction for the prevention, detection, control, and restoration of effects from aquatic and terrestrial invasive species (including vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, and pathogens).

Invasive Species of Region 5

  • Invasive Insects & Forest Diseases of Hawaiʻi and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands

    Priority invasive insect & plant disease species in the Pacific include Myoporum thrips, coconut rhinoceros beetle, Erythrina gall wasp, Ohia rust, and more.
  • Invasive Plants of Hawaiʻi and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands

    Priority invasive plant species in the Pacific include miconia, strawberry guava, cogon grass, mile-a-minute weed, and more.
  • Invasive Insects of California

    Priority invasive insect species in California include goldspotted oak borer, polyphagous shot hole borer, gypsy moth, and more.
  • Invasive Forest Diseases of California

    Priority invasive plant disease species in California include sudden oak death, Port-Orford-cedar root disease, white pine blister rust, and pitch canker.
  • Invasive Plants of California

    Priority invasive plant species in California include yellow starthistle, Scotch and French broom, giant reed and tamarisk, and spotted and diffuse knapweed.

Firewood Movement: Buy It Where You Burn It!

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    The movement of firewood can be a source of introduction and dissemination of invasive forest insects and diseases into and around the United States. Pests such as the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer are established in other states and would cause great harm if they became established in California. The gold spotted oak borer, sudden oak death, and pitch canker are invasive pests that are established in parts of California and would cause additional harm if they became established in other parts of the state. Resource management professionals and scientists recognize that transport of firewood is one of the principal means by which many invasive pests are spread from one area to another.

Additional Resources


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    Please report a plant or pest that you suspect may be a new invasive species in your area.
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    Prevention and control of invasive species is an achievable goal linked directly to common outdoor recreation ethics and stewardship principles.