Last week, President Clinton created a government agency to battle alien invaders. No, it's not the plot line from a Hollywood disaster film. The executive order establishes the Invasive Species Council that will design a plan to stymie the economic and environmental harm done to native ecosystems by the introduction of nonindigenous organisms in recent years (see related story, page 13).
Invasive pests like the Asian long-horned beetle have decimated maple trees in New York and Chicago, while nonnative weeds like the purple loosestrife have ruined wetlands. The invaders reach US borders in different ways. They can be inadvertently packed in shipments of organic matter or they can get transported in the ballast tanks of foreign cargo ships.
Clinton's new budget proposes allocating $29 million to prevent further destruction and reverse the environmental damage already done.