Press Release

Welch, Braun, and Hassan Introduce Bill to Address Spread of Invasive Species and Protect Forest Ecosystems

Apr 20, 2023

WASHINGTON – Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) led a bipartisan group to introduce the Invasive Species Prevention and Forest Restoration Act today. The bill, co-led by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), provides tools to combat non-native insects and pathogens that threaten forests and woodlands. The bill takes a comprehensive approach to combatting the presence of invasive species by expanding access to emergency funds for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to eradicate or contain pests.

“Invasive species threaten the stability of our ecosystems and present a real threat to culturally and ecologically significant plant species, including Vermont’s ash trees,” said Sen. Welch. “This bill will ensure USDA has the resources needed to tackle this issue head-on and protect the woodlands that mean so much to communities in Vermont and across the United States.”

“As a lifelong outdoorsman, I recognize the threat that invasive species have on our ecosystems like the extinction of native plants or the destruction of habitat. This bill will help strengthen our approach to combatting invasive species, in Indiana and across the country, and reduce the ecological and economic impact that they have,” said Sen. Braun.

“New Hampshire, like many other parts of the country, is home to beautiful forests and natural areas – all of which we must work to protect from invasive species,” said Sen. Hassan. “I am glad to introduce this bipartisan bill that will help us understand and address the spread of invasive species in our unique environment, ensuring that our wildlife areas are preserved for years to come.”

The Invasive Species Prevention and Forest Restoration Act would:

  1. Expand the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s access to emergency funding to combat invasive species when existing federal funds are insufficient and broaden the range of activities these funds can support.
  2. Establish a grant program to support institutions focused on researching methods to restore native tree species that have been severely damaged by invasive pests.
  3. Authorize funding to implement promising research findings on how to protect native tree species.
  4. Mandate a study to identify actions needed to overcome the lack of centralization and prioritization of non-native insect and pathogen research and response within the federal government, and develop national strategies for saving tree species.

The Invasive Species Prevention and Forest Restoration Act was first introduced by Sen. Welch during his time in the House of Representatives. It is supported by a broad array of environmental protection and conservation groups, including the Vermont Woodlands Association and Center for Invasive Species Prevention

To read the text of the bill, please click here.