GM_190_414 - Part 414 - Invasive Species

Subpart A - General

414.0  Purpose

This directive sets forth the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) policy and requirements regarding invasive species.  This policy provides direction and guidance for agency actions related to preventing the introduction of invasive species, managing existing invasive species, and minimizing economic, ecological, and human health impacts that invasive species may cause.

414.1  Background

A.  On February 3, 1999, former President William J. Clinton signed Executive Order 13112, “Invasive Species,” directing Federal agencies to “prevent the introduction of invasive species and provide for their control and to minimize the economic, ecological and human health impacts that invasive species cause.”  The National Invasive Species Council (NISC) and Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) were formed to define how and ensure that this Executive Order would be carried out. See for further information.  As the initial response to this Executive Order, NISC and ISAC developed a National Invasive Species Management Plan (NISMP), released in January 2001, to focus upon terrestrial and aquatic invasive plants, animals, and microbial organisms that cause or may cause significant negative impacts and do not provide an equivalent benefit to society.  NISMP was revised in August 2008 for calendar years 2008-2012, and is posted at  This NRCS Invasive Species policy is consistent with and supports Executive Order 13112, the 2008 NISMP, and the National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management of May 17, 2004 (

B.  Invasive species are reducing the economic productivity and ecological integrity of our Nation’s lands and waters.  The rate of introduction of such species has risen markedly in recent years with costs to society growing commensurately.  Invasive species harm native species and their habitats, degrade renewable resources, and diminish productive capacity of agricultural lands including cropland, forestlands, rangelands, and pasturelands.  They negatively impact a wide variety of human activities and needs.

414.2  Authorities

Authorities for the formation of this policy include the following:

(1)  Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1935, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 590a–590f, 590q.

(2)  Bankhead–Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937, as amended, 7 U.S.C. 1000 and 1010–1011.

(3)  National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 4321- 4347.

(4)  Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1974, as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2814.

(5)  Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act of 1977, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 2001–2009.

(6)  The Food Security Act of 1985, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 3801–3862.

(7)  Invasive Species Executive Order 13112, dated February 3, 1999.

(8)  Former USDA Policy of Noxious Weed Management, Departmental Regulation 9500–010, January 18, 1990.

414.3  Definitions

A.  Control – Appropriate management actions taken to minimize the spread and size of an invasive species’ population.  These actions include eradicating, suppressing, reducing, or managing populations of invasive species, preventing the spread of invasive species from areas where they are present, and taking steps, such as restoration of native habitats or desired plant communities, to reduce the effects of invasive species and to prevent further invasions.

B.  Ecosystem – The complex of a community of organisms and its environment.

C.  Introduction – The intentional or unintentional escape, release, dissemination, or placement of a species into an ecosystem as a result of human activity.  “Introduced” is not synonymous and should not be confused with the term “invasive.”

D.  Invasive species – Those species whose introduction does, or is likely to, cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.  For the purpose of this policy only, a plant species is considered “invasive" only when it occurs on the Federal or State-specific noxious weed list or a list developed by the State-specific Department of Agriculture with their partners and approved by the State Technical Committee which prohibits or cautions its use due to invasive qualities.

E.  Native species – With respect to a particular ecosystem, a species that, other than as a result of an introduction, historically occurred or currently occurs in that ecosystem.

F.  Non-native species – Within a particular ecosystem, any species – including its seeds, eggs, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species – that is not native to that ecosystem.

G.  Noxious weeds – Those plant species designated as such by the Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of the Interior, or by State law or regulation.  Generally, noxious weeds will possess one or more of the characteristics of being aggressive and difficult to manage, parasitic, a carrier or host of deleterious insects or disease, and being non-native, new to, or not common to the U.S. or parts thereof.

H.  Pest – A weed, insect, disease, animal, or other organism (including invasive and noninvasive species) that directly or indirectly causes damage or annoyance by destroying food and fiber products, causing structural damage, or creating a poor environment for other organisms.

I.  Restoration – Activities taken following a natural or human-caused landscape disturbance (e.g., the removal of an invasive species population) to begin bringing the landscape back to its natural or desired vegetative condition.

J.  Species – A group of organisms which have a high degree of physical and genetic similarity, which generally breed only among themselves, which show persistent differences from members of allied groups of organisms, and which produce viable offspring.

[GM_190_414_A - Amend. 20 - July 2010]

Subpart B - Policy

414.10  Guidance and Policy Requirements

A.  Guidance and requirements in this Subpart are applicable to all NRCS technical and financial assistance involving invasive species, and will be followed by all NRCS employees when providing such assistance.

B.  Technical Service Providers and other non-NRCS employees will meet NRCS invasive species policy requirements when assisting clients with conservation activities for which NRCS has technical and/or financial responsibility.

414.11  NRCS Roles

The roles of NRCS concerning invasive species include the following actions:

(1)  Adhering to goals and purposes of the NISMP.

(2)  Following and supporting all Tribal, State, and local laws regarding invasive species in the course of giving technical and financial assistance and implementing conservation practices.

(3)  Considering environmental, social, cultural, and economic conditions when recommending management options for eradication or control of invasive species.

(4)  Encouraging the use of native species for a given location and conservation practice in correlation with restoration or control goals, for example, ecological site descriptions or other agency-established land-use type classifications.

(5)  Recognizing that many introduced species are not invasive, and that some of these, within specific settings, are among the best plants for conservation, forage production, and agronomic purposes.

(6)  Evaluating, developing, and/or recommending noninvasive, non-native species in order to meet both the agronomic and conservation objectives of our clientele when native species will not support the conservation needs.

(7)  Using NRCS programs, when appropriate, to help private landowners recognize, inventory, and control invasive species.

(8)  Working with NRCS experts and partners to better understand invasiveness thresholds and potential social, economic, and/or environmental threats.

(9)  Preparing and maintaining management plans, technical notes, and guides reflecting the management of invasive species, and adding timely and pertinent information to the Plant Materials Program national Web site (, the PLANTS database (, and other appropriate databases.

(10)  Recognizing that NRCS staffs are likely to be among the first professionals to see or hear of existing or potential species invasions due to NRCS interface with private landowners, and taking into account client confidentiality when working with landowners to manage invasive species while also conveying the need to prevent these invasive species from spreading.

414.12  Partnerships

NRCS encourages partnerships with other Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments and nongovernmental organizations to:

(1)  Share information and address invasive species issues impacting ecosystem health and quality of life.

(2)  Provide public education on invasive species identification and management.

(3)  Achieve local and regional goals for controlling invasive species.

(4)  Create Tribal, State, and regional lists of invasive terrestrial and aquatic plant and animal species, and prioritize these species in such a way as to reflect the degree of threat to human, environmental, and economic health.


[GM_190_414_B - Amend. 20 - July 2010]

Subpart C - Responsibilities

414.20  USDA Officials

USDA officials are to follow the National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management of May 17, 2004 (, Executive Order 13112 (, and the Federal NISMP (

414.21  NRCS National Headquarters Officials

A.  The Chief is responsible for ensuring that NRCS implements this policy.

B.  The Deputy Chief for Science and Technology, under the general direction of the Chief, is responsible for:

(1)  Representing the Chief on national committees and ad hoc groups concerned with invasive species.

(2)  Coordinating with other Federal agencies in the establishment, application, and use of an Invasive Species Management Program approach for the control and containment of invasive species.

(3)  Establishing standards and programs for invasive species management training.

C.  The Director of the Ecological Sciences Division is responsible for:

(1)  Providing national leadership for invasive species management through the NRCS budget process.

(2)  Developing appropriate national program directives.

(3)  Providing input regarding invasive species to NRCS program managers and those charged with implementing farm and conservation legislation.

(4)  Maintaining intimate involvement with the activities described in Subpart B, Policy, particularly through encouraging the use of native plants and the development of native and introduced non-invasive plant species alternatives when necessary.

(5)  Providing overall agency information exchange and coordination on invasive species issues.

D.  The Director of the National Plant Data Center, under the direction of the Director, Ecological Sciences Division, is responsible for upgrading the NRCS plants database (PLANTS) with useful information about plants that are invasive, and providing appropriate materials (e.g., plant guides, plant fact sheets, identification guides) for invasive plants.

414.22  Reserved

414.23  NRCS State and Pacific Islands and Caribbean Areas Officials

State Conservationists (STC) and Directors of the Pacific Islands and Caribbean Areas are responsible for:

(1)  Ensuring that field personnel maintain compliance with this policy and monitor and report on compliance, as required, according to NRCS procedures.

(2)  Ensuring all Environmental Evaluation CPA-52s consider and evaluate issues pertaining to invasive species during the conservation planning process.

(3)  Providing training, guidance, and assistance to field personnel regarding the management of invasive species and introduced species with the potential to become invasive.

(4)  Ensuring that all conservation plans and contracts, where relevant, contain appropriate clauses concerning the prevention, spread, and management of invasive species.

(5)  Updating the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) and electronic FOTG (eFOTG) ( with invasive species recommendations, where relevant.

(6)  Participating in State (and equivalent) invasive species rapid-response teams and efforts.

(7)  Joining with Federal, Tribal, State, and local officials and the State Technical Committee in an interdisciplinary approach in compiling State and regional invasive species lists.

(8)  Staying abreast of State and local non-native species of concern that may become invasive.

414.24  NRCS Plant Materials Centers Officials

A.  Plant Materials Specialists and Plant Materials Centers Managers, under the direction of STCs, are to:

(1)  Provide agency leadership through field plantings and conservation field trials in the States served and through day-to-day provision of conservation technical assistance to field office personnel, which includes helping to identify, solve, or mitigate invasive species concerns and encouraging the use of native species and/or non-native species where appropriate to combat invasive species problems.

(2)  Work through State Plant Materials Committees, or other appropriate State committees, to identify potential and existing invasive species problems and potential solutions to be tested, with particular focus upon the evaluation and use of native plant species.

B.  Plant Materials Centers Managers, under the direction of the STCs, are to:

(1)  Maintain involvement with the activities described in Subpart B, Policy.

(2)  Provide agency leadership on invasive species control and management through Plant Materials Centers studies, literature reviews, and cooperation with other research groups.

(3)  Ensure shipments of plant materials are in compliance with Federal, State, and county laws relative to invasive plants.

(4)  Help solve or mitigate invasive species concerns and encourage the use of native species through technical assistance, field trials, demonstration plantings, and outreach materials.

414.25  NRCS Field Office (and equivalent) Officials

NRCS field office technical leaders (e.g., District Conservationists and Team Leaders), as participants in team or partnership efforts, are to:

(1)  Participate in local efforts with State (and equivalent) and county agency officials, user groups, and landowners/managers in preventing, controlling, containing, and performing outreach and monitoring efforts related to the management of invasive species.

(2)  Take an active role in the development of informational materials, such as posters, brochures, and awareness/prevention programs.

(3)  Work with NRCS partners within the locally-led process, and with State Technical Committees to establish local and regional priorities regarding invasive species.

(4)  Provide technical assistance to cooperative weed management and invasive species management entities and other local invasive species working groups.

(5)  Assist with inventories, monitoring, detection, and Environmental Evaluation CPA-52 requirements for technical and financial assistance on private lands as an integral part of the conservation planning process.

(6)  Inform landowners and managers of the presence of invasive species, and provide appropriate conservation technical assistance to address issues.

414.26  All NRCS Employees

At all organizational levels, NRCS employees are to incorporate identification and control of invasive species into the agency planning process described in the National Planning Procedures Handbook available through the NRCS e-Directives Web site at, thus enhancing NRCS’ expertise concerning plants and animals.

[GM_190_414_C - Amend. 20 - July 2010]

Subpart D - Invasive Species and Technical Assistance

414.30  Addressing Invasive Species within the Conservation Plan

A.  Recognizing and addressing invasive species presence and associated resource concerns is an integral part of the conservation planning process; and this is an important step for NRCS to effectively implement this policy.

B.  Invasive species resource concerns described in a conservation plan will be addressed in accordance with planning procedures as addressed in the National Planning Handbook and National Environmental Compliance Handbook available through the NRCS e-Directives Web site at, and in compliance with any existing county, State, or Federal regulations concerning noxious and/or invasive species.  The following items, as a minimum, are to be included in the plan:

(1)  An inventory of invasive species within the conservation management unit being planned.

(2)  A map/aerial photograph outlining the affected areas of the land being planned.

(3)  Identification of appropriate control and restoration techniques/strategies and their operation and maintenance requirements.

(4)  Environmental Evaluation CPA-52 identifying and assessing the impact and issues pertaining to invasive species.

414.31 Other Considerations

A.  All risks to other resources from invasive species control/eradication and restoration techniques shall be considered when developing the conservation plan.

B.  It is NRCS’ responsibility to ensure that no species is recommended in a conservation plan that is listed on the Federal noxious weed list or a list developed by the appropriate State Department of Agriculture and partners and approved by the appropriate State Technical Committee that prohibits or cautions the use of specific plants due to their invasive qualities. 

C.  The landowner has responsibility for following all regulations.

D.  Plant Materials Centers will ensure that the shipment of all plant materials is in compliance with all county, State, or Federal laws relative to invasive plants.  No plant materials (seed, plants, and/or other types of propagules) will be distributed that contain official State recognized noxious weeds.

[GM_190_414_D - Amend. 20 - July 2010]