Invasive species program launches new education effort
KEENE VALLEY – The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program is celebrating its 20th anniversary by trying to educate more people about the dangers of invasive species, and the steps that can be taken to limit the impacts non-native species can have.
With the Keep Invasives Out initiative, APIPP – which is part of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy but works with many regional partners – hopes to reach a wider audience with its message.
“Up until this point, we’ve really been opportunistic as far as who we try to engage on the invasive species issue,” Brendan Quirion, APIPP program manager said. “Usually it’s people who have some knowledge of the environment or the impact of invasive species. So in some sense, it was kind of preaching to the choir.
“With this initiative, we’re really trying to anyone and everyone, whether they have knowledge of invasive species or not.”
Quirion said that while current efforts have been good at targeting boaters, canoeists and kayakers, invasive species can come from other visitors as well, such as hikers and vehicles. But it’s not just wilderness users who can introduce non-native species, as invasives can also be spread through agricultural and horticultural means as well.
“What kicked this off as a five year communications strategy that we developed,” he said. “We had these high priority audiences that we felt had the highest threat to spread something unintentionally but would also be more inclined to take these small, simple steps to prevent the spread.”
This list includes hikers, hunters, horseback riders, fishermen and women, gardeners and landscapers. Quirion said APIPP is also working with state and local highway departments.
There is a new website to go along with this initiative at www.keepinvasivesout.com, where users can look up tips on preventing the spread of invasive species. For instance, the website recommends that campers only burn local firewood, or gardeners can buy plants from local greenhouses and check the label to ensure the plant was grown in New York if buying at big box store.
Quirion said he thinks APIPP has done a good job over the last two decades at holding the line on invasive species, adding that the three out of every four lakes in the Adirondacks that are surveyed are still invasive-free. He also said that more than 1,000 terrestrial invasive infestations have been essentially eradicated.