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Invasive species council and USDA practice rapid response

HELENA, Mont. – The Montana Invasive Species Council (MISC), in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), hosted an Incident Command tabletop exercise for agencies and organizations concerned with invasive tree pests on Mar. 13, 2018, at the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation headquarters.

The exercise enabled cooperating groups and agencies to practice their response to detection of an invasive species using an Incident Command structure. Participants worked through the steps of containing and controlling a potential outbreak.

“Although prevention is the best defense, our concerted efforts won’t necessarily stop invasive tree pests and other species from entering Montana,” said Bryce Christiaens, MISC chairman. “Rapid response planning activities are extremely valuable. We all improve our abilities to quickly and efficiently respond to a detection.”

Participants from plant health divisions of state, federal and municipal governments, universities and NGOs analyzed several potential response scenarios, including detections in urban, rural, and wildland forests, said Christiaens.

“Cross-boundary situations are always a challenge, and we worked through situations involving state and international borders, along with complicated land ownership patterns,” he said. “We learned how to better mobilize, prioritize, and accomplish emergency response actions through the Incident Command system.”

This was the second exercise MISC has hosted as part of its continuing effort to build emergency readiness to emerging invasive species threats.

To learn more about MISC and upcoming events and exercises, visit