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Washington State University
WSU Puyallup Ornamental Plant Pathology


The USDA Forest Service International Programs has provided WSU with an initial 2-year grant to support the establishment of sentinel plantings at Washington State seaports in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service, WSDA, WA DNR, Port of Tacoma, and the CIty of Tacoma. Starting at the Port of Tacoma, WSU will establish plantings of important northwest trees and shurbs to monitor for the potential arrival of invasive forest pests and diseases via Washington’s seaports.

More information about the project is presented below, but feel free to contact us with any questions or feedback.

Project Overview

The aim of this project is to establish sentinel plantings and develop early-detection educational programming for communities near Tacoma, then expand the approaches to other port cities in the Pacific Northwest.

The objective of this project are to:

  1. establish and provide an example of a sentinel planting approach,
  2. conduct general surveys for exotic insects and diseases, including non-regulated species,
  3. incorporate education and community science in monitoring urban plantings for pests and diseases, and
  4. measure the immediate and longer-term impacts of outreach on the effectiveness of early detection.

Help Select the Species to Include in the Planting

We are requesting your help in prioritizing which trees and shrubs should be included in the initial sentinel plantings. Our goal is to have diversity of representative economically, culturally, and ecologically regionally important species in the plantings. There may also be number of other species that should be considered.

Please take a few minutes to complete the following survey.



Ports of commerce are important bottlenecks in biological invasion pathways. Monitoring at ports promotes the early detection of forest pests and pathogens, but surveillance capacity is limited and novel invasions can be undetected. When an introduction occurs, detecting the pest or pathogen before it establishes is critical for limiting its potential impacts on forests in the United States.

Washington state has many ports of entry, including major seaports in Seattle and Tacoma. Due to its location adjacent to international borders, its mild-yet-diverse climates, and having major ports servicing the Pacific Rim, Washington State is highly vulnerable to new pest introductions. Each year, high risk materials such as live plants, wood products, solid wood packing material, and other protected structures for hitchhiking pests travel through these ports.

The Ports of Tacoma and Seattle have been and continue to be possible entry points for new introductions because they receive diverse high-risk materials from many sources, including several countries in Asia. Seattle and Tacoma are also widely surrounded by forest ecosystems with moderate climates suitable for many pests and pathogens. In addition, because the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are located near the urban environment, they provide enormous opportunities for engaging urban communities in biosurveillance, adding capacity for detecting novel invasions. These large urban centers are also potential points of spread because of the large amount of products and people moving through the cities. Increasing the capacity to detect and respond to new pests early in their establishment in the major hubs of the Puget Sound will help reduce impacts on surrounding habitats and agricultural centers of Washington State.