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Mike Thompson co-founds Invasive Species Caucus

A Bay Area congressman announced today that he has cofounded a bipartisan Congressional Invasive Species Caucus.

Mike ThompsonNo, this isn’t related to immigration reform. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, said he launched the caucus with Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., to raise awareness about invasive flora and fauna, support local communities who are bearing the brunt of this problem, and promote efforts to prevent and control their spread.

“Invasive species pose a costly challenge to infrastructure, agriculture and the environment,” Thompson said in a news release. “By bringing together experts and industry leaders, we can come up with plans to protect our communities from invasive species before they become a major problem.”

Invasive species can devastate native habitat, damage crops, clog water pipes, infect other plants and animals with dangerous diseases, or outcompete native species. This can lead to lower crop yields, health hazards, irreparable environmental damage and severe tolls on local, state, and federal budgets.

Quagga musselsThompson recently co-sponsored a bipartisan bill, H.R. 1823, the Protecting Lakes Against Quagga Act, that would add quagga mussels to the national invasive species list, giving federal agencies greater ability to prevent their spread. In Thompson’s district, Clear Lake, Lake Sonoma, and Lake Berryessa are all rated at the highest possible risk for quagga invasion, though none has been invaded yet.

If such an invasion occurred, control and treatment would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and impact the water supply for residents in Sonoma, Lake, and Solano Counties, Thompson’s office says – and if the mussels invade the state water infrastructure, it could cost millions every year to keep the pipes clear.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.