It took years, though, to complete a study, and years more to convene a task force to review the study results. By then common crupina had spread well beyond Idaho into other neighboring states – making true eradication a very costly, time consuming and unlikely proposition.
There are also examples, though, of a more effective approach. Some states and municipalities have launched action-oriented "early detection, rapid response" programs that are producing impressive results.
In California, early detection and early response prevented a potential environmental disaster triggered by "killer algae" (Caulerpa taxifolia). A native of Europe, killer algae is a prolific producer of a chemical that is toxic to fish and other organisms. It also is easily spread since small pieces of the plant can break free and grow into new colonies. Once the algae is well established, eradication is almost impossible.
In 2000, a small infestation of killer algae was discovered in a lagoon in San Diego County. Soon after, a second infestation was discovered in a nearby harbor in Orange County. Knowing the potential damage killer algae represented to fishing and recreation, multiple agencies at the local, state and federal level sprang into action and coordinated a response.
Black plastic tarps and chlorine were used to kill the algae at both sites. In addition, recreational divers were trained to spot the weed and to sound an early alarm if there were new outbreaks. As a result, what could have become a very costly problem appears to have been quickly and successfully resolved.
"We've long understood the value of an early response to diseases impacting human health," Jachetta said. "It's time to bring that same sense of urgency to our natural environment and to take prompt, effective action to stop harmful invasive weeds."