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Santa Clara County Advises Residents of Risks from Invasive Plants and Pests

Invasive Species Affect Agriculture and Native Plants
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – April is the National Invasive Plant, Pest, and Disease Awareness Month. During this month, the County of Santa Clara is joining the federal government’s effort to raise awareness of the risks that invasive plants, pests, diseases and harmful weeds pose to local crops, and how the public can help to prevent the spread of these non-native, destructive species.
 
“Santa Clara County is considered a gateway county because we have a major airport and a population that travels all over the world,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, Chair of the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors’ Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee. “Non-native pests not only have an economic impact on our agricultural industry, but threaten California’s native and urban environments.”            
 
The continuing introduction of non-native species into California and the United States is a significant problem, causing lost agricultural productivity, expensive prevention and eradication efforts, environmental degradation, and increased health problems. A recent study concluded that the annual costs of non-native species to the U.S. economy exceed $120 billion, which equates to $1,100 per household.
 
“Many people may be participating in the spread of invasive species unknowingly by sending or receiving by mail backyard-grown fruits, vegetables, or plants and this is the easiest way to introduce an invasive species to a new area,” said Joseph Deviney, Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner. “We are working to share the information about invasive plants, pests and diseases with the community so our residents can understand what a big impact these seemingly simple actions can have on the area.”                                  
 
The Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioners’ Office is providing workshops to schools, organizations and cultural community festivals that are interested in providing information to their members. School officials and organizers can contact Helena Roberts, Supervising Biologist, at (408) 918-4668, to schedule an on-site workshop.
 
The public is also encouraged to visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s website: www.HungryPests.com to learn about invasive plants, pests and diseases by state.
 
Species such as Guava Fruit Fly, Oriental Fruit Fly, Medfly, and the European Grapevine Moth have all entered Santa Clara County by hitchhiking on plant material from another state of country. The species can also hitchhike in and on the things people move and pack, such as firewood, outdoor furniture, and agricultural products ordered online.
 
What you can do to reduce the spread of invasive species:
·        Do not move untreated firewood. 
·        Only buy plants, including the ones you purchase online, from reputable sources.
·        Don’t bring or mail fresh fruits, vegetables or plants into California or any other state unless agricultural inspectors have cleared them beforehand.
·        Declare all agricultural items to customs/border officials when returning from out of the country/state.
·        Wash outdoor gear and tires so they are free of dirt before leaving fishing, hunting or camping trips.
·        Clean lawn furniture and other outdoors items before moving them.
·        Report signs of invasive pests or disease in Santa Clara County to County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office at: 408-918-4600.
 
Media Contact:  Gwendolyn Mitchell/Lingxia Meng, Office of Public Affairs
(408) 299-5119; Michelle Thom, Agriculture and Environmental Management (408) 918-4615
Posted: April 23, 2014