WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Michael Hauser, Vermont’s lead specialist on invasive species today testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the problems created by zebra mussels, milfoil, sea lamprey and other invasive species in Vermont, “are likely to increase significantly if we do not seize this opportunity to prevent more invasive species from coming our way.” Hauser testified at the request of U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., the ranking member of the committee. Earlier this year, Jeffords joined in the introduction of legislation to fight the invasion of milfoil, zebra mussels, sea lamprey and other invasive species in Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes. “Invasive species take both an economic and an environmental toll. The United States and Canada are spending $14 million a year just to try to control sea lamprey, a species that has invaded Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes. The environmental costs are also staggering. Invasive species usually have high reproductive rates, they disperse easily, and can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, making them very difficult to eradicate. They often lack predators in their new environment and out-compete native species for prey and breeding sites,” said Jeffords at the hearing. “The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2003,” will focus federal resources on preventing new invasive species from entering aquatic ecosystems. Prevention is critical because once established, these species do widespread damage, are impossible to eradicate and very expensive to control. The legislation establishes a mandatory ballast water management program for the entire country and provides $170 million in federal funds for prevention, control, and research. Hauser testified, “Non-native species that have proven to be extremely invasive in other regions of this country are poised to enter water systems of the Northeast. It is imperative that we prevent this from happening, and the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act can help us do that.”