The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program received the 2013 National Invasive Species Awareness Week Award in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Invasive Species Leadership.
This national recognition was for APIPP's leadership in invasive species prevention and control, including collaboration and coalition building. State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens presented the award to APIPP Director Hilary Smith during a Forestry Awareness Day celebration at the Legislative Office building in Albany on Tuesday.
The first program of its kind in New York, APIPP started in 1998 as a grassroots effort to implement a landscape-level approach to address threats posed by invasive species and minimize costs to governments, businesses and landowners. It has since harnessed the energies of hundreds of volunteers, forged countless partnerships and influenced local and statewide action against invasive species.
APIPP Director Hilary Smith, accepts the National Invasive Species Awareness Week Award from Kevin King, Director of Plant Industry at state Department of Agriculture & Markets, left, and DEC Commissioner Joe Martens on Tuesday in Albany.
(Photo provided by NYSDEC)
APIPP served as the model for seven other programs, known as Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management, that are now supported in large part through the state's environmental protection fund. The program has also shared its practices at Weeds Across Borders conferences in Mexico and Canada.
"We are deeply honored by this recognition, which affirms the importance of local action and strong partnerships," Smith said. "With the extraordinary dedication of so many partners, collaborators, landowners and volunteers working together, we are making a difference to address tough challenges and know that solutions are within our grasp."
APIPP is a partnership program founded by The Nature Conservancy's Adirondack Chapter, the DEC, Department of Transportation and Adirondack Park Agency.
"The Adirondack Park - known for its forest and fresh water resources - is one of the few places where opportunities still exist to prevent invasive species from becoming widespread," said TNC Executive Director Michael Carr. "We are proud of this partnership and the results it continues to produce for people and nature."
Examples of APIPP's work that earned the group the award include the following:
Instituting early detection programs with hundreds of volunteers surveying lands and waters, and gathering important baseline data to help identify priority areas for prevention and management.
Directly reaching more than 1,000 citizens per year through education programs, such as free training in forest pest detection, aquatic invasive species identification and invasive plant management techniques.
Reaching thousands of people through a seasonal news column, "Eye on Invasives," published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Adirondack Express.
Leveraging private funds to deploy professional rapid response teams to eradicate new infestations encroaching ecologically significant areas.
Helping to support boat launch stewardship programs that reach more than 30,000 recreationists per year.
"All New Yorkers hold a stake in protecting our natural resources for future generations, which is why it is so critical to address invasive species," Martens said. "APIPP has been leading the charge for more than a decade. This is well-deserved recognition of the excellent work APIPP has done and a testimony to what can be accomplished through private-public partnerships, dedicated funding through New York's Environmental Protection Fund and coordination at the state level."
Last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the Invasive Species Prevention Act which created a statewide regulatory system to prohibit or limit the sale and transport of known invasive plants and animals that threaten communities, natural areas and job-creating industries that depend on natural resources. The Governor has also asked DEC to take immediate action by completing a comprehensive, environmental review to determine how to combat invasive species in Lake George.
"Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo's leadership, the state Department of Transportation is continuing to work with our state and local environmental protection partners to control the spread of invasive plants along transportation corridors in the Adirondack Park," said APA Chairwoman Leilani Ulrich. "We're very pleased that the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program has received this prestigious award and we look forward to future efforts to protect native plant species in the Park, helping to preserve its rich heritage and natural beauty."
The selection committee for this year's award included representatives from the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (an intergovernmental organization) and its regional panels, the National Invasive Species Council, the Invasive Species Advisory Committee, and the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds.