Economic Impact of
Invasive Species in Washington
Washington is at risk from a wide variety of invasive species. These species damage Washington’s landscapes, agriculture, business, and recreation.
While there are more than 200 known invasive species found in or near Washington state, the economic analysis highlights the damages and potential impacts that could result if 23 of these species were allowed to spread in Washington in a single year without prevention or control measures.The Goal
This report aims to help state agencies better understand the economic costs of invasive species in lost jobs, lost wages, and lost business sales.
Total Cost of Invasive Species
Without prevention and control, the selected invasive species could cost Washington $1.3 billion annually.
Water facilities such as dams and irrigation systems can be devastated by aquatic invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil and quagga and zebra mussels. If invasive species are introduced to a facility, costly mitigation and maintenance systems must be installed for the facility to function. The total economic impact to water facilities from quagga and zebra mussels is estimated to be more than $100 million and 500 jobs lost.
Cropland has the potential to be quickly infested by invasive plants, which require resources to control, and by invasive animals, which are looking for fruits and vegetables to eat. The total economic impact of the selected 23 invasive species on crops grown in Washington is estimated to be more than $589 million a year and 4,400 jobs lost.
Invasive noxious weeds in pastures and rangeland displace native plants eaten by livestock. In some cases, these plants also are poisonous to livestock and horses and can cause life-threatening ailments. The total economic impact of the selected 23 invasive species on the livestock industry is estimated to be more than $282 million annually and 1,500 jobs lost.
Many invasive species have the ability to severely impact Washington’s
$1.68 billion timber and logging industry. Invasive noxious weed species such as Scotch broom can outcompete new saplings, which harms future timber harvests. Insect species such as gypsy moth have a more immediate impact on forests by defoliating and stressing adult trees, resulting in their death. The total economic impact of the selected 23 invasive species on the timber industry is estimated to be $297 million and 1,300 jobs lost.
Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and boating can all be adversely affected by invasive species. Many of the same species that impact a rancher’s ability to range their cattle also reduce elk and deer populations. Invasive species in the water hamper fish populations and can reduce access to popular fishing areas. Other water species can clog up boat propellers and render public boat launches unusable. The total economic impact to recreational activities from the selected 23 invasive species is estimated to be more than
$47 million a year and 500 jobs lost.
The Worst Offenders
Rush skeletonweed, Scotch broom, apple maggot, and zebra/quagga mussels are the most costly of the selected invasive species in Washington with an estimated total impact of $927.2 million and more than 5,140 jobs lost, the report concluded.