Performance Standards for Invasive Species Control
Invasive Species/Vegetation Management
Research Idea Scope
There is a need for invasive species control performance standards. NCHRP Synthesis 363 identified that there are few studies that quantify benefits of invasive secies control, thus highway departments often commit resources with only an intuitive sense of value. FHWA Final Report, Invasive Species Cover and Wildlife Use at Compesnatory Mitigation Sites (August 2010) concluded that highway departments often are required to meet percent cover objectives that are unreasonable, costly, and lack permanence. The objective of new research would be to develop science-based performance standards that take into account site history, topography, geography, existing conditions, proximity to other infestations, and projected evolution of vegetative cover on the treated site. These performance standards would be used to decide 1) if treatment is beneficial and to what degree and 2) to facilitate setting of reasonable control objectives by the regulatory community. Key tasks would be 1) build on the FHWA study by collecting credible and verifiable data from treated sites, 2) develop a model that is as universal (geographically as well as by species) as possible such that highway departments can input their own data. 3) field test the model 4) publish results
Urgency and Payoff
This research is needed because there is not currently a science-based systematic means of determining the full costs and benefits of invasive species control. Highway departments sometimes do it because “everyone knows it’s a good thing.” We are also often driven to meet unreasonable and costly control objectives by the regulators. With solid data highway departments can prioritize treatment proposals based on benefit, and we can provide the regulators with credible data to adjust their expectations. The fact is, there are many sites we currently treat that should not be treated at all. We simply need a better means of using our limited resources where they will be most effective.
Gary Sick, NYSDOT, 585-272-3373