California Border Protection Stations (BPS)

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First Line of Defense

California’s Border Protection Stations: The First line of defense in protecting our environment and resources from invasive species. (3:35)

California’s Border Protection Stations (BPS) are the first line of defense in our pest exclusion efforts. At these stations, vehicles are inspected for commodities infested with invasive species. California established its first agricultural inspection stations in the early 1920s. Today there are 16 of these facilities located on the major highways entering the State (see interactive map). At these stations, vehicles and commodities are checked to ensure they are pest free and meet all regulatory requirements.

Most years, more than 20 million private vehicles and 7 million commercial vehicles were inspected at the BPS. From these vehicles, inspectors rejected over 82,000 lots of plant material (fruits, vegetables, plants, etc.) because they were in violation of California or federal plant quarantine laws.

Watercraft, self-movers, recreational vehicles and utility vehicles comprise about five percent of the vehicles that pass through the stations yearly. Commercial vehicles cover over 25 percent of the traffic. The remaining 70% are classified as passenger private vehicles that are required to be screened for routes of travel determining pest risk and level of inspection. Inspectors are busy day in and day out, filtering and inspecting these 20 million vehicles that come into the State. As a result, inspectors intercepted thousands of contraband material annually.

Traveling to California

Pest Exclusion — The Concept

California is free from many invasive insect, weed and disease species that wreck havoc on agriculture and environments in other states and countries. This is largely because our State is surrounded by natural barriers—towering mountains to the north and east, scorching desert to the south, and vast ocean to the west. Most plant pests cannot cross these barriers on their own; however, the State is under constant threat of pest introductions by man.

Many invasive species are adept hitchhikers, traveling along with produce, plants or vehicles as they are brought or shipped by unsuspecting individuals or companies. Because of the vast habitat and climate variations in California, these invaders often find a new home in which they can thrive—free from the natural predators that kept them in check in their home environment.

When infestations that cannot be eradicated occur, crops often must be sprayed or otherwise treated to keep pests at bay so marketable goods can be grown. This equates to more chemicals in the environment and higher prices in the grocery store. In many cases invasive species permanently alter the environment, making it uninhabitable for native species or rendering land worthless or useless for recreation, grazing or other uses.

To reduce the number of pest introductions and subsequent infestations, California maintains a pest prevention system. A major part of this system is pest exclusion—inspecting commodities as they enter to prevent introductions.