Most people eagerly await the arrival of spring. I do, too, although it is typically short-lived and comes with mixed emotions. As the ice melts, I am always excited to get out on the water, though upon seeing the first anglers and boaters of the season, I wonder, "Did they clean their gear?" The joy of seeing plants come back to life in my garden is often fleeting, too. I remember, just as desired plants begin to grow, so too do the invasive ones. The shrubby European honeysuckles, for instance, are the first on the scene to green-up.
With open water, warmer temperatures and bursting buds, the summer field season of invasive species prevention and control is upon us. While writing this season's inaugural column of Eye on Invasives, I realized that I feel differently than in past years. My usual anxious anticipation of what the summer will hold has been replaced with an excited expectation.
Now more than ever, the pulse of invasive species action is ever present and growing stronger. The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program is a partnership of diverse groups from all over the region and is more than 30 strong. The army of APIPP volunteers searching waterways for aquatic invasives tops 100. APIPP's education intern and the Department of Environmental Conservation's invasive species operations specialist join the team again in mid-May. By Memorial Day, nearly 30 stewards will be stationed at boat launches across the region, helping to safeguard our waterways. In June, the Adirondack Terrestrial and Aquatic Response Teams return for a third year to implement swift controls on priority infestations. And all summer long, partners will lead education programs to keep invasive species on the radar of residents and visitors alike.
Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program partners collaborate year-round to protect the region from invasive species.
(Photo courtesy of APIPP)
This is just a sampling of the great work underway to address invasives in the Adirondacks. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the result is successful invasive species prevention and management. With each passing year, the program seems more like a well-oiled machine, and that feels GOOD.
Since the Adirondacks remain relatively free of invasive species, we have a unique opportunity to prevent widespread degradation, but the time to act is now. Two out of three waters in the Adirondacks surveyed are free of aquatic invasive species. The average patch size of a terrestrial plant infestation is less than 0.08 acres, which is smaller than a basketball court. We know the pathways of spread, the location of most infestations and the treatment techniques; and we are finally building the capacity and network for effective action at a meaningful scale.
The partners working in collaboration in the Adirondacks are among the best in the state. I am encouraged by, and privileged to work with, proactive local government leaders, passionate members of lake associations, dedicated staff of Cornell Cooperative Extension and Soil and Water Conservation District Offices, selfless volunteers, innovative academic and non-profit groups, state agencies and more - all working together to get this right.
Every action makes a difference, and you, too, can play a critical part. As the calendar turns the corner into summer, remember to landscape with non-invasive plants in the garden. Clean, drain and dry watercraft and gear before transporting it between waterways. Use firewood local to your area. Brush off boots and tire tread at the trail. And release unwanted bait only in the trash, not in the wild. Now is the time to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect the special character of the Adirondacks. For more information, contact APIPP at 518-576-2082.
Eye on Invasives is a biweekly column that spotlights a top invader when it is easiest to identify. Hilary Smith directs the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, a partnership program housed at the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in Keene Valley. Find out more about this award-winning program online at www.adkinvasives.com.