Sunday, September 26, 2010

Summer's Bounty and the Ongoing Threat of Invasive Species

Some people measure the passage of time with changes in weather and leaves falling off trees. I measure it in canning jars and freezer space.

At the start of summer, my stack of empty canning jars in the garage reaches the ceiling and my freezers are mostly empty. At the start of fall, there are no canning jars in the garage, and my pantry is chock full of all kinds of delectable foods. This years' canning tally resulted in 10 quarts of applesauce, 16 pints of salsa, 50 pints of tuna, 16 pints of jalapeno peppers, 16 quarts of green beans, 40 pints of pickles, 11 quarts of kale, and 12 pints of jam -- all except the tuna was grown in our garden. And our freezers are full of corn, smoked poblano peppers, jam, green beans, strawberries, blueberries, kotataberries, loganberries, eggplant, and broccoli. Our dry storage is piled high with garlic, shallots, and potatoes. It will be a good winter.

But I'm worried about the future. In just the past couple of years, light brown apple moth has been knocking on Oregon's door from the south. Last year, Drosophila suzukii, a type of fruit fly, devastated the peach crop at an orchard a few miles from my house. And there's a host of other invasive diseases and insects that threaten Oregon's produce, ranging from blueberry hill carlavirus and potato wart to bacterial blight of grapes -- not exactly coffee shop subjects, but invasive diseases and pests that have the potential to change what I value in life.

A statewide assessment conducted by the Oregon Invasive Species Council showed Oregon spent about $28 million on invasive species management and control in 2008 -- and that was only for entities that participated in the assessment. It's very likely when you add up the total that everyone in Oregon spends on invasives, we're well into the hundreds of millions. Yet the list of invasives knocking on our door that have the potential to change our way of life and further impact Oregon's economy grows larger.

We must remain vigilant -- the future of Oregon is at stake.

Lisa A. DeBruyckere, Oregon Invasive Species Council Coordinator

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