$6.23 Million from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund fuels terrestrial invasive species research at the University of Minnesota

The renewed support allows the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Pests and Plants Center to continue fostering the health of Minnesota's natural, cultural, and agricultural resources.

ST. PAUL, MINN. ---- The Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Pests and Plants Center (MITPPC) was recently granted $6.23 million over five years through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). The funding will allow MITPPC to continue vital research addressing invasive terrestrial (land-based) species across the state. 

MITPPC relies on biennial requests to the ENRTF to discover new technologies and strategies for invasive species management, preparation, and early detection. Funding from ENRTF provides the center with the ability to support multi-year research projects and dozens of researchers, graduate students, and postdoctoral associates with broad academic backgrounds, bringing fresh ideas and new perspectives to the field.

The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) makes funding recommendations to the Minnesota state legislature for environment and natural resource projects. The ENRTF is funded by the Minnesota lottery, not taxpayers. 

“Minnesota has more than 300 invasive species that affect our forests, prairies, wetlands and agriculture, and even more are on the way,” says Robert Venette, PhD, Director of MITPPC and Research Biologist with USDA Forest Service. “Research from MITPPC is bold, providing exciting new ways to manage some of the most harmful species like emerald ash borer, buckthorn, oak wilt, and soybean aphids—among many others. We are truly thankful to the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Walz for supporting MITPPC and this critical work.”

Invasive plants, animals, insects, and pathogens that threaten Minnesota’s biodiversity and natural heritage damage urban and rural forests, as well as crop production. In total, these plants and pests cost Minnesotans at least $3 billion—and cost Americans $150 billion—each year. They threaten our food systems, wildlife, recreational spaces, food security, economy, and health. Efficiently protecting Minnesota’s land and waters from these harmful invaders requires new tools and techniques that only applied research can help develop and only engaged partners can help implement. 

“MITPPC researchers are active in every corner of the state, from the black spruce stands in northern Minnesota to the soybean fields in the south,” says Venette. “We work with industry partners, landowners, governments, tribes, and other stakeholders to find innovative, effective solutions to the problems posed by invasive species. Partnering with diverse groups helps MITPPC bring the advancements we make out of the lab and into the field more quickly and efficiently.” 

MITPPC launched at the University of Minnesota in 2015 with funding from the Minnesota Legislature granted in 2014. Researchers funded by MITPPC constantly move the needle on complex invasive species issues across Minnesota’s lands. MITPPC addresses the most pressing invasive land-based species through early detection, management alternatives, response to climate change, socio-economic impact, and developing informed preparation methods for species not yet across the state line. The center funds more than 48 research projects with over 90 researchers—all of which would not be possible without support from the ENRTF.

See what we’ve accomplished with ENRTF support in years past:


Research projects supported by this funding will focus on: 

  • predicting and preventing threats that are not yet in Minnesota,
  • early detection and rapid response of newly arriving threats, and
  • effective control and management of established invasive populations. 

Current and past projects have included:

  • Exploring biocontrol options for soybean aphid, emerald ash borer, buckthorn, and reed canary grass; and genetic biocontrol options for spotted wing drosophila;
  • Using state-of-the-art technology like drones, virtual reality, and biosurveillance for the identification and control of invasive species;
  • Researching techniques to optimize the use of goats to control buckthorn; 
  • Engaging with citizen scientists on wild parsnip, jumping worms, buckthorn, and invasive knotweed; 
  • Launching new lines of research on the control and management of hybrid barberry and corn tar spot


Media contact
Heather Koop, [email protected]