International Broom Initiative

IBI Funding Request, 2003

Funding Request for

US Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service

Submitted by:

International Broom Initiative, Biological Control Working Group

California Exotic Pest Plant Council

January 27, 2003


This funding request will fund development and implementation of biological controls against domestic broom and gorse infestations in the western United States.

Exotic brooms (Spanish, French, Scotch, and Portuguese brooms) and gorse are invasive plants that wreak economic and ecological damage in California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii, as well as Australia and New Zealand. These are landscape-scale infestations, and fighting them requires aggressive action beyond local restoration efforts. Developing biological control agents is the most promising strategy for fighting these weeds because they provide ongoing, effective control over a large area.

To develop these agents, a core group of scientists with expertise in weed biological control and weed biology is needed to work on this project. Scientists from three agencies—the USDA-ARS Exotic and Invasive Weed Research Unit located in Albany, CA, the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Biological Control Program, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Weed Control Program—have a long history in weed biological control research and implementation and are the most qualified. Because staff at USDA-ARS, CDFA, and ODA are currently committed to other, equally critical invasive weed research projects, it is necessary to increase each agency’s scientific and support staff (costing $690,000 annually for USDA-ARS Albany plus $140,000 in overhead for the entire project; $120,000 annually for CDFA; and $60,000 for ODA).

USDA-ARS scientists will (1) verify host specificity and genetic/ taxonomic characterization which is required for approval of biological control agents, (2) document research data and write the petition for agent introduction, (3) maintain quarantine associated with new shipments of biological control agents, (4) conduct field release experiments on the approved biological control agents, and (5) study the basic biology of the agents to support the integration of the biological controls into management strategies of landowners. CDFA and ODA scientists will oversee coordination with county staff that will (1) distribute the biological control agents to local landowners and (2) conduct field impact studies to determine the long-term effectiveness of the released agents.

The remaining funding ($390,000) will be directed at foreign exploration and other biological control research to be performed overseas ($250,000) and domestic research by University of California ($140,000) to provide information on the population biology of the targeted weed species and effective incorporation of biological controls into the integrated weed management and revegetation protocols now used by local landowners. Overseas work will be conducted by the Australian Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), which currently runs a small-scale broom biological control project based in southern France. The overseas work will be managed by USDA-ARS Albany through a Specific Cooperative Agreement with CSIRO. CSIRO has already committed funding for one scientist and some technical staff to this project because of the serious broom problem in their country. The overseas funding in this request will increase their ongoing effort to include research needed for the western United States. USDA-ARS overhead to administer the project is 10% of the total ($140,000).

Proposed Appropriation

Project Overhead (to USDA-ARS Headquarters) 140,000
USDA-ARS Albany 690,000
Overseas Research (CSIRO) 250,000
Domestic Research (UC) 140,000
CDFA Scientist 120,000
ODA Scientist 60,000
TOTAL $1,400,000

As proposed, approximately 60% of this funding ($830,000) will be retained by USDA-ARS, $120,000 will be passed to CDFA, $60,000 will be passed to ODA and $390,000 will be coordinated by the Broom Biological Control Working Group, an oversight group consisting of representatives from USDA-ARS, CDFA, ODA, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the nonprofit California Exotic Pest Plant Council, and the California County Agricultural Commissioners. Initially, the Working Group will direct ARS Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Unit to provide $250,000 to CSIRO for the overseas biological control research and to provide $140,000 to the University of California Weed Research and Information Center to support research of invasive broom biology and integrated control methods. Later, as the need for overseas research declines, the Working Group will direct a larger share to local implementation and research.

Wording for House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Requests

“Broom biological control — The Committee recognizes that invasive exotic brooms and gorse are causing serious economic and environmental losses to forestry, agriculture, and rangelands in the western United States. It is further recognized that to combat these problems, a multi-agency effort is needed to develop biological controls and revegetation technologies. The Committee provides an increase of $1,400,000 to USDA-ARS to develop new biological control technology for management of exotic brooms and gorse that have infested areas in California and other western states. ARS is directed to implement a new CRIS (Current Research Information System) Project at the Biological Control of Weeds Quarantine Facility which is managed by the ARS Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Unit, Albany, CA ($690,000); to add two new scientists (one entomologist and one molecular systematist); provide technical support to the California Department of Food and Agriculture ($120,000); provide technical support to the Oregon Department of Agriculture ($60,000); and to fund a local, state, federal consortium ($390,000 managed by the Broom Biological Control Working Group) to address broom and gorse biological control research for the Pacific Western States. USDA overhead fees ($140,000) are to be taken only from the resources left within ARS Headquarters and not from resources passed to cooperators.”

For More Information:

Contact the International Broom Initiative (IBI) Project Coordinator:
Doug Johnson, Executive Director
California Invasive Plant Council
1442-A Walnut Street, #462
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 843-3902

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