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Proposed Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management in Pennsylvania

​The Pennsylvania Invasive Species Council (PISC) proposes a partnership-based, regional approach to meet the critical need to manage invasive species that threaten our economy, environment, and human and animal health.  

State legislative hearing details economic impact of invasive species and need for funding "PRISM" approach to management.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, chaired by Senator Gene Yaw, held the state legislature's first ever hearing on the economic impacts of invasive species on August 24. Watch a video of the hearing, read highlights, or read the complete testimonials.

Key takeaways include:

  • Invasive species are pervasive statewide, cause millions of dollars in damage to Pennsylvania's agricultural and forestry industries and degrade the quality of our recreational assets.
  • Many types of invasive plants, insects, and aquatic animals require immediate attention.
  • Efforts to address invasive species include eradication, management, and prevention. All efforts must include local involvement and public outreach and education.
  • Dedicated state funding is essential to control and management of invasive species.
  • Pennsylvania should consider funding and implementing a Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) model to prevent and minimize the harm caused by invasive species.

Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management

The PRISM program would provide funding to a local host organization in each designated region. Each host organization would use this funding to form and coordinate a large, diverse partnership of regional stakeholders to implement invasive species prevention, education, and management.

Partner in a PRISM framework would:

  • Monitor, manage, and eradicate invasive species.
  • Develop early detection and rapid response capacity.
  • Provide education and outreach.
  • Preserve ecosystem services, native species, critical habitats, and threatened and endangered species.
  • Increase resilience of green spaces in urban and natural environments.
  • Protect and improve soil, air, and water quality.
  • Mitigate invasive species contributions to climate change.


How PRISM Would Work

  1. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, where the PISC coordinator is housed, would administer the PRISM program.
  2. The Department of Agriculture would issue a Request for Proposals for organizations interested in serving as a host to lead and administer each regional PRISM (see PRISM region map below). Applicants would need to demonstrate their ability to address all aspects of PRISM administration as well as a commitment to invasive species management.
  3. A review committee, consisting of Agriculture staff and PISC members, would review proposals and select a host organization for each PRISM.
  4. Each PRISM will develop a 5-year strategic plan to address essential components of invasive species management. Each PRISM will have meeting and reporting requirements to demonstrate progress towards meeting strategic plan goals, and to connect with each other and PISC. Organizations that may be interested in aligning their strategic plans with a future PRISM program can reference the PRISM 5-Year Strategic Plan Guidelines developed by PISC. 
  5. Hosts would coordinate and facilitate development of their regional network and would establish connections with other PRISMs and with the Council. In this way, local and regional invasive species issues would be rapidly addressed and communicated easily to neighboring regions and state-wide so that lessons on management could be shared.
  6. Hosts would be evaluated on their outcomes, including effective and efficient use of funding, by Agriculture and PISC.

Proposed PRISM Regions

PISC proposes PRISM regions corresponding to the existing Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts regions to capitalize on existing infrastructure, organization, networks, and resources.


What Makes PRISM Effective

The PRISM program is an effective way to prevent and manage invasive species on a statewide scale because of several unique features.

First, the PRISM program creates and leverages a large pool of resources and knowledge by bringing together a broad diversity of stakeholders impacted by invasive species: local, state, and federal government, public and private industry, conservation and environmental organizations, scientists and academics, grassroots organizations, farmers, gardeners, hunters, anglers, hikers, and other nature and outdoor enthusiasts, private citizens, local community groups, and more.

Second, the PRISM program creates six distinct regions in Pennsylvania and provides each with the independent ability for stakeholders to establish their own priorities, objectives and strategic plan. Empowering them in this way creates a strong sense of ownership, purpose, and responsibility for stewardship of their region. This regional approach also provides many benefits associated with community-based efforts and the “local movement” that comes from the desire to care for and support the area where you live. 

Funding Needed

New stable funding is needed to implement and maintain the PRISM program:

  • Funds in the form of grants to PRISM host organizations are needed to staff and administer each of six regions, and for invasive species management activities;
  • Funds are needed for staff at PDA to manage and administer the PRISM program.

Supplementary funding for high-priority invasive species incursions should be made available through the Pennsylvania Rapid Response and Disaster Preparedness Fund.

Stakeholder Support for PRISM

Legislative testimonies by Pennsylvania leadership and a stakeholder survey demonstrate overwhelming support for PRISM in Pennsylvania. Further stakeholder support is needed! Consider contacting your state legislators to voice your support. For more information on how you can support PRISM, contact PISC Coordinator Kris Abell at   

Other States’ Success with PRISM

Many states have already implemented some form of PRISM program, New York state being one of the most notable. New York’s program has been in operation for 8 years and has been very successful. New York has eight regional partnerships all contracted to local host organizations by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and funded through a real estate transfer tax. See their website for more information.

Contact Kristopher Abell with questions.

Do you think the proposed PRISM program would help overcome these impediments?


If established, would you or your organization have interest in partnering/participating in the PRISM program?


What invasive species are you currently trying to manage?

Japanese knotweed, goatsrue, callery pear, multiflora rose, phragmites, tree-of-heaven, oriental bittersweet, red eared sliders, European water chestnut, Japanese stiltgrass, privet, rusty crayfish, striped maple, spotted lanternfly, quagga mussels, emerald ash borer, elongate hemlock scale, Lymantria dispar, hemlock woolly adelgid, goutweed, garlic mustard, bush honeysuckle, crown vetch, poison hemlock, mugwort, zebra mussels, hydrilla, New Zealand mudsnail, starry stonewort, round goby, Canada thistle, autumn olive, feral swine, European starlings, mile-a-minute weed, golden bamboo, Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife, brown marmorated stinkbug, Japanese hops, glossy buckthorn, European buckthorn, curly pondweed, wisteria, English ivy, beech leaf disease, oak wilt, Norway maple, empress tree, giant hogweed, burning bush, reed canary grass, Japanese honeysuckle, common teasel, yellow floating heart, European frogbit, yellow flag iris, and wild parsnip.