U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Invasive Species Efforts

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Updated November 12, 2020
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Invasive Species Efforts
An invasive species is a nonnative species that does or is
USACE’s spending on invasive species was included in
likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to
activities focused on navigation, 25% was included in
human health. Invasive species impact terrestrial and
activities for ecosystem restoration, and 10% was included
aquatic—including marine and freshwater—systems. As
in other activities. Invasive species spending also can be
society has become more connected, opportunities for the
divided by response type. Figure 1 shows the spending
spread of invasive species have increased (e.g., navigation
breakdown for the type of USACE invasive species work in
activities can transport species and introduce them to
multiple different watersheds and waterbodies). After
introduction, invasive species may become established and
Figure 1. USACE Invasive Species Estimated Spending
spread; it can be costly and difficult (or impossible, in some
by Response Activity, FY2020
cases) to control or eradicate them. Many federal and
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
Source: USACE, Engineer Research and Development Center.
invasive species that damage other water bodies. This In
Note: USACE estimates spending for fiscal years based on previous
Focus presents information on USACE invasive species
fiscal year expenditures, projections of work, and any known
funding and selected authorities, programs, and projects, as
additions of funding.
well as related legislative action in the 116th Congress.
USACE Invasive Species Activities
USACE Invasive Species Programs
USACE has several programs that direct specific invasive
USACE generally undertakes efforts to prevent or reduce
species activities. These programs receive funding annually.
the introduction and establishment of invasive species at its
projects, pursuant to its nationwide Invasive Species Policy,
Aquatic Plant Control Program. The River and Harbor
engineering regulations, and project and programmatic
Act of 1958, as amended (33 U.S.C. §610), authorizes the
authorizations (some of which authorize specific invasive
Aquatic Plant Control Program, a comprehensive program
species control and eradication activities). USACE typicaly
for the prevention, control, and progressive eradication of
funds invasive species work for individual projects through
noxious aquatic plant growths and aquatic invasive species
project funding lines in the Operation and Maintenance
in U.S. waters. The program undertakes research and
(O&M) account; project planning documents address the
development of management solutions for invasive aquatic
nature of work at the project level. USACE also pursues
plants that affect USACE missions. The Water Resources
invasive species research that may involve field studies at
Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-121)
USACE projects. Other USACE activities (e.g., regulatory
amended this authority to also allow for USACE to
activities) also may take invasive species into consideration.
establish watercraft inspections stations in selected river
basins to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species,
USACE spent an estimated $164.9 million on invasive
including plants and animals (including quagga and zebra
species activities in FY2020. Spending for invasive species
mussels) at USACE reservoirs. These watercraft inspection
is included in many USACE activities; for example, 65% of
stations are to be constructed, operated, and maintained

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Invasive Species Efforts
with a 50% federal cost share. The America’s Water
of Engineers signed a report recommending the Technology
Infrastructure Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-270) authorized annual
Alternative with a cost of $830.8 million (FY2019 levels) at
appropriations of $110 million, designating $90 million for
a 65% federal cost share for construction and an 80%
watercraft inspection stations in five selected river basins in
federal cost share for operation, maintenance, repair,
the western United States. In FY2020, Congress
rehabilitation, and replacement. Congress has yet to
appropriated $24 million for the Aquatic Plant Control
authorize this project.
Program in the Construction account, including $15 million
for watercraft inspections stations.
Legislative Action in the 116th Congress
The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and
Aquatic Nuisance Research Program. The
Recreation Act (P.L. 116-9) amended the Fish and Wildlife
Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control
Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. §§661 et seq.) to direct the
Act of 1990, as amended by the National Invasive Species
Secretary of the Army to develop a strategic plan for the
Act of 1996, authorized the Aquatic Nuisance Species
implementation of an invasive species program to achieve a
Research Program (16 U.S.C. §4722). An expansion of the
substantive annual net reduction of invasive species
former Zebra Mussel Research Program, the program
populations on land or water managed by USACE. The
researches new methods for prevention, detection,
amendment also directed the Secretary of the Army to carry
monitoring, and control of invasive aquatic animals, as well
out activities on land and water directly managed by
as harmful algae and cyanobacteria, that impact navigable
USACE. America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (P.L.
waters, infrastructure, and associated water resources. The
116-188) amended the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
program then disseminates this information to USACE field
to authorize $2.5 million annually for FY2021 through
offices. Program activities do not require a nonfederal cost
FY2025 for USACE invasive species activities authorized
share. Following enactment of the America’s Water
by P.L. 116-9.
Infrastructure Act of 2018, which directed USACE to
implement a five-year harmful algal bloom technology
The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (H.R.
development demonstration program under the Aquatic
7575) and the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020
Nuisance Research Program, Congress increased
(S. 3591) include provisions related to USACE invasive
appropriations for the program in the O&M account from
species efforts. Among other provisions, both bills would
$650,000 per year in FY2015 through FY2018 to $3 million
authorize the GLMRIS Brandon Road project as described
in FY2019 and $16 million in FY2020 (with explicit
above. H.R. 7575 would set the Administration’s federal
explanatory language directing the increased funding to
construction cost share at 80% (compared with 65%, as
address harmful algal blooms ).
recommended in the Chief of Engineer’s report) and allow
for the addition or substitution of technologies or measures
Removal of Aquatic Growth Program. The Removal of
not described in the feasibility report. S. 3591 would set the
Aquatic Growth Program is a navigation O&M authority as
federal construction cost share at 75%. Both H.R. 7575 and
provided in several public laws to control both invasive and
S. 3591 also contain other invasive species-related
nuisance native plants that are negatively impacting
provisions. H.R. 7575 would direct the Secretary of the
USACE navigation projects in Gulf Coast states, Georgia,
Army to periodically update USACE’s Invasive Species
and South Carolina. USACE reported in 2019 that the
Policy, with specific consideration given to updates related
program has provided approximately $6 million, annually,
to high-altitude lakes and the Tennessee and Cumberland
for work primarily conducted in Louisiana and Florida at
River basins. S. 3591 includes provisions related to invasive
full federal expense.
species activities at various agencies, including USACE.
The bill would amend the authority from P.L. 115-270
Example USACE Invasive Species Projects
directing USACE to conduct and report on aquatic invasive
In some cases, Congress has authorized USACE to
species research. It also would amend the authority for the
undertake invasive species control efforts at specific federal
South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (Section
water resource projects. One notable example is USACE
528 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996; P.L.
efforts in the Chicago area to control the transfer of aquatic
104-303) to include research and implementation of
invasive species, including Asian carp, between the Great
management, control, and eradication activities to reduce or
Lakes basin and the Mississippi River basin. For example,
neutralize the impacts of a priority list of invasive species.
Congress first authorized and funded USACE’s
The bill would increase the annual authorization of
construction and operation of underwater electric barriers in
appropriations for the Aquatic Plant Control Program from
the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which is a navigable
$110 million to $120 million in each fiscal year, of which
hydrologic link between the Great Lakes and the
$100 million annually would be authorized for watercraft
Mississippi River, to help prevent the spread of invasive
inspection stations in specified regions. The bill also would
species. Congress further authorized a larger USACE study
authorize USACE to enter into partnerships to control or
of potential methods to prevent the aquatic invasive species
eradicate invasive species that adversely impact water
transfer between the basins, known as the Great Lakes and
quantity or quality in certain western river basins and
Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). GLMRIS
authorize several pilot programs, including an Asian carp
recommendations included a “Technology Alternative,”
prevention and control pilot program using innovative
which would provide nonstructural measures, an acoustic
fish deterrent, an air bubble curtain, an engineered channel,
an electric barrier, a flushing lock, and boat launches, at
Anna E. Normand, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy
Brandon Road Lock and Dam. In 2019, the USACE Chief
R. Eliot Crafton, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Invasive Species Efforts


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