U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Invasive Species Efforts

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Updated January 4, 2021
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Invasive Species Efforts
An invasive species is a nonnative species that does or is
USACE also may require applicants to consider invasive
likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to
species control.
human health. Invasive species impact terrestrial and
aquatic—including marine and freshwater—systems. As
USACE spent an estimated $164.9 million on invasive
society has become more connected, opportunities for the
species activities in FY2020. Invasive species spending can
spread of invasive species have increased (e.g., navigation
be divided by response type. Figure 1 shows the spending
activities can transport species and introduce them to
breakdown for the type of USACE invasive species work in
multiple different watersheds and waterbodies). After
introduction, invasive species may become established and
spread; it can be costly and difficult (or impossible, in some
Figure 1. USACE Invasive Species Estimated Spending
cases) to control or eradicate them. Many federal and
by Response Activity, FY2020
nonfederal agencies managing land and water undertake
efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive
species or, upon detection of an invasive species, devote
resources to control and eradication efforts. For more
information on invasive species, see CRS In Focus
IF11011, Invasive Species: A Brief Overview.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), part of the
Department of Defense, develops and maintains civil works
projects in the United States principally to improve
navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and
restore aquatic ecosystems. USACE is the steward of
approximately 12 million acres of public lands and waters
at hundreds of water resources projects nationwide.
Invasive species can impact USACE projects by
outcompeting native species, clogging water pipes, and
affecting water quality and recreation. Invasive species
affecting USACE projects include Asian carp, zebra and
quagga mussels, feral hogs, and hydrilla, among others.
USACE projects also can serve as a vector for transporting

invasive species that damage other water bodies. Congress
Source: CRS, with data from USACE, Engineer Research and
has authorized various programs for USACE invasive
Development Center.
species activities and, starting in recent years, has increased
Note: USACE estimates spending for fiscal years based on previous
the scope of the authorizations as well as appropriations for
fiscal year expenditures, projections of work, and any known
these activities. This In Focus presents information on
additions of funding.
USACE invasive species funding and selected authorities,
programs, and projects, as well as related legislative action
USACE Invasive Species Programs
in the 116th Congress.
USACE has several programs that direct specific invasive
USACE Invasive Species Activities
species activities. Congress funds these programs annually.
USACE generally undertakes efforts to prevent or reduce
Aquatic Plant Control Program. Section 104 of the River
the introduction and establishment of invasive species at its
and Harbor Act of 1958, as amended (33 U.S.C. §610),
projects, pursuant to its nationwide invasive species policy,
authorizes the Aquatic Plant Control Program, a program
engineering regulations, and project and programmatic
for the prevention, control, and progressive eradication of
authorizations (some of which authorize specific invasive
noxious aquatic plant growths and aquatic invasive species
species control and eradication activities). USACE typicaly
in U.S. waters. The program supports research and
funds invasive species work for individual projects through
development of management solutions for invasive aquatic
project funding lines in the Operation and Maintenance
plants that affect USACE missions. The Water Resources
(O&M) account; project planning documents address the
Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-121)
nature of work at the project level. USACE also pursues
amended this authority to also allow for USACE to
invasive species research that may involve field studies at
establish watercraft inspections stations in selected river
USACE projects. As part of its regulatory responsibilities,
basins to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species,
including plants and animals (such as quagga and zebra

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mussels) at USACE reservoirs. These watercraft inspection
of Engineers signed a report recommending the Technology
stations are to be constructed, operated, and maintained
Alternative with a cost of $830.8 million (FY2019 levels) at
with a 50% federal cost share. The America’s Water
a 65% federal cost share for construction and an 80%
Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA 2018; P.L. 115-270)
federal cost share for operation, maintenance, repair,
authorized annual appropriations of $110 million,
rehabilitation, and replacement. (See “Legislative Action in
designating $90 million for watercraft inspection stations in
the 116th Congress” for authorization of the project.)
selected river basins in the western United States. This
program was further amended in the 116th Congress (see
Legislative Action in the 116th Congress
“Legislative Action in the 116th Congress”). For FY2021,
The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and
Congress appropriated $25 million for the Aquatic Plant
Recreation Act (P.L. 116-9) amended the Fish and Wildlife
Control Program in the Construction account, including $15
Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. §§661 et seq.) to direct the
million for watercraft inspections stations.
Secretary of the Army to develop a strategic plan for the
implementation of an invasive species program to achieve
Aquatic Nuisance Research Program. The
an annual net reduction of invasive species populations on
Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control
land or water managed by USACE. The amendment also
Act of 1990, as amended by the National Invasive Species
directed the Secretary to carry out activities on land and
Act of 1996, authorized the Aquatic Nuisance Species
water directly managed by USACE. The America’s
Research Program (16 U.S.C. §4722). An expansion of the
Conservation Enhancement Act (P.L. 116-188) amended
former Zebra Mussel Research Program, the program
the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act to authorize $2.5
supports research on new methods for prevention,
million annually for FY2021 through FY2025 for USACE
detection, monitoring, and control of invasive aquatic
invasive species activities authorized by P.L. 116-9.
animals, as well as harmful algae and cyanobacteria, that
impact navigable waters, infrastructure, and associated
The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA
water resources. USACE then disseminates this information
2020; Division AA of P.L. 116-260) included provisions
to USACE field offices. Program activities do not require a
related to USACE invasive species efforts. WRDA 2020
nonfederal cost share. AWIA 2018 directed USACE to
authorized the Brandon Road Project, described above, with
implement a five-year harmful algal bloom (HAB)
the federal construction cost share at 80% (compared with
technology development demonstration program under the
65%, as recommended in the Chief of Engineer’s report).
Aquatic Nuisance Research Program. Congress has
appropriated funding for the program in the O&M account
WRDA 2020 called for periodic updates to USACE’s
at $16 million in FY2020 and $17 million in FY2021;
invasive species policy and amended an aquatic invasive
explanatory language accompanying the appropriations acts
species research provision enacted in AWIA 2018 (33
directed the majority of the funding to address HABs.
U.S.C. 2263a). The law also authorized the South Florida
Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to research and
Removal of Aquatic Growth Program. The Removal of
implement actions on priority invasive species, and it
Aquatic Growth Program is a navigation O&M authority as
amended the authority for a multiagency effort combat the
provided in several public laws to control both invasive and
spread of Asian carp in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio
nuisance native plants that are negatively impacting
River basins (16 U.S.C. §4701 note) to include the entire
USACE navigation projects in Gulf Coast states, Georgia,
Mississippi River and its six sub-basins.
and South Carolina. In FY2021, Congress provided $4.6
WRDA 2020 increased the annual authorization of
million for USACE to remove aquatic growth in Louisiana
appropriations for the Aquatic Plant Control Program from
and Florida at full federal expense.
$110 million to $130 million, which is to be allocated
among watercraft inspection and decontamination stations
Example USACE Invasive Species Projects
in specified regions. The law also amended the authority to
In some cases, Congress has authorized USACE to
authorize $50 million annually from FY2021 through
undertake invasive species control efforts at specific federal
FY2024 for USACE to enter into partnerships to control or
water resource projects. An example is USACE efforts in
eradicate invasive species in certain western river basins
the Chicago area to control the transfer of aquatic invasive
and to authorize a pilot program for management of
species, including Asian carp, between the Great Lakes
invasive species at public facilities associated with USACE
basin and the Mississippi River basin. Congress funded
reservoirs in the Upper Missouri River Basin. The law
USACE’s construction and operation of underwater electric
authorized several other pilot programs, including an Asian
barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which is a
carp prevention and control pilot program using innovative
hydrologic link between the Great Lakes and the
technologies and a terrestrial exotic weed pilot program.
Mississippi River, to help prevent the spread of invasive
USACE may develop guidance that describes how the
species. Congress further authorized a larger USACE study
agency will implement WRDA 2020 provisions. Through
of potential methods to prevent the aquatic invasive species
the appropriations process, Congress may consider which
transfer between the basins, known as the Great Lakes and
authorized programs to fund and at what level. Congress
Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). GLMRIS
also may engage in oversight of the implementation of new
recommendations included a “Technology Alternative,”
or amended authorities and review the effectiveness,
which would provide nonstructural measures, an acoustic
efficiency, and priorities of USACE invasive species
fish deterrent, an air bubble curtain, an engineered channel,
an electric barrier, a flushing lock, and boat launches, at
Brandon Road Lock and Dam. In 2019, the USACE Chief
Anna E. Normand, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Invasive Species Efforts

R. Eliot Crafton, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

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