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Wisconsin approves changes to state invasive species law

MADISON – A state law aimed at preventing the spread of invasive species and reducing their statewide impacts has been updated and following legislative approved went into effect May 1, 2015.

Revisions to Chapter NR 40 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code include the listing of additional species and delisting or down listing of some of currently regulated species under the state’s Invasive Species Identification, Classification and Control rule. In total, listings of more than 100 different species were updated and revised to respond to changing conditions and statuses of invasive species around the state.

“Invasives like the emerald ash borer, Eurasian water-milfoil and garlic mustard harm our environment, cost billions of dollars annually across the nation and threaten core Wisconsin business sectors such as agriculture, tourism and forestry,” said Paul Schumacher, chair of the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council. “These revisions to the invasive species rule are an adaptive approach to tackle the threats from invasive species and meet the department’s charge from the legislature to address these challenges.”

The updates to the invasive species rule were a result of several partnerships with the Department of Natural Resources including the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council, Department Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Wisconsin Green Industry Federation, the University of Wisconsin, and input from species experts, stakeholders and the public.

A major update includes revising the status of species that have become established in Wisconsin since they were first listed as prohibited in 2009, such as emerald ash borer, a beetle responsible for the destruction of tens of thousands of ash trees in Wisconsin. Under the rule, prohibited species are those that are not well established in the state and whose spread can be prevented or limited to certain areas using eradication methods. Since being listed, EAB has spread to 37 counties prompting a proposal to change the beetle’s regulatory status to restricted.

Restricted species are those already found in the state and may be more widespread; eradication is improbable but the spread can still be managed. When this happens, measures to manage the spread of invasives like EAB apply, such as DATCP quarantines and DNR firewood transportation restrictions.

Other revisions include changes to plants species like non-native phragmites, Japanese hedgeparsley and forest pests like jumping worms. A full list of the new invasive species rule changes and literature reviews are available by going to the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keyword “NR 40.”

“The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council is appreciative of all the hard work from our partners and stakeholders who helped make these changes possible,” said Schumacher. “Wisconsin is one of the first states to have an identification and listing rule like NR40, which goes a long way in our efforts to reduce the impacts of invasives.”

People can learn more about the changes to NR40 during an online chat at noon on Thursday, May 28. To participate, visit the DNR home page, dnr.wi.gov, and click on the graphic or search the phrase “ask the experts.” You can also join the conversation via our Facebook page at facebook.com/WIDNR by clicking the “Ask the Experts Chat” tab at the top of the page.