Trail Conference Leads Regional Invasives Work in New York
The challenge of protecting our environment from invasive species is ever-present in the greater New York metropolitan area, where global commerce invites global threats into our area. New York State has pledged increasing support for the issue of combatting invasive species—$12 million last year, which was nearly double from 2015. As leaders of the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), the Trail Conference is doing our part to protect the rich biodiversity of the region.
The Lower Hudson PRISM is one of eight regional partnerships in the state of New York funded by the Department of Environmental Conservation through the Environmental Protection Fund. The Trail Conference’s Director of Land Stewardship, Linda Rohleder, is the Lower Hudson PRISM (LHPRISM) program coordinator.
In partnership with more than 45 organizations, the Trail Conference guides the LHPRISM in identifying conservation areas where our invasive species management efforts will be of benefit. Collectively, we focus on likely areas of introduction and methods of early detection and rapid response. We gather and share information, engage volunteers, and educate people on the threat of invasive species and our work.
Last year was very successful in the fight against invasive species in the Lower Hudson region. Here are some of LHPRISM’s successes in 2016.
Aquatic Invasive Species
In aquatic systems, prevention is the best method of dealing with invasive species. That’s because once a water body is invaded, treatment becomes very difficult, costly, or simply impossible. Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, based in Beacon, N.Y., heads the LHPRISM aquatic program. In 2016, 40 locations were surveyed for aquatic invasives. Volunteer stewards inspected 1,317 boats at three launches along the Hudson River, and spoke with 3,300 boaters. An additional 2,700 people were reached at events. In addition, SOLitude Lake Management worked to survey the Croton River for hydrilla tubers and monitor the population growth of this aggressive invader first spotted in the river in 2013.
Southern Pine Beetle Monitoring
In May and June, the LHPRISM participated in an effort to monitor for Southern Pine Beetle (SPB), an invasive insect emerging in our area. Fifteen volunteers checked 12 SPB traps located throughout the region. The monitoring effort took a total of 174 volunteer hours that contributed to the detection of SPB at Bear Mountain, Schunnemunk, and Minnewaska state parks, and Roosa Gap State Forest. After SPB was found in traps at Bear Mountain and Schunnemunk, we recruited volunteers to search for the infested trees and wrote press releases to get the information out to the local communities. No infested trees have been found in these two parks, but the beetles were later found in traps at Minnewaska and Roosa Gap, and potentially infested trees were observed there.
The BlockBuster Survey focuses on searching for a focal list of invasive plant species in 3x3-mile blocks throughout the Lower Hudson Valley. By spreading our survey efforts and searching in likely locations for invasive species, we hope to fill in gaps in our knowledge about various species distributions and also make some early detections. In July, our Cornell Cooperative Extension offices trained 115 volunteers to survey for our focal invasive plants for the BlockBuster Survey program. The Lower Hudson region was divided into 377 blocks, and 112 of these blocks were assigned to our surveying volunteers. So far, we have received data from 74 blocks—or close to 20 percent—of our total blocks in the region and have identified several early detection locations. We plan to run this survey effort every year.
Education for Gardeners
Hudsonia LLC and the Cornell Cooperative Extension office in Rockland County developed training on best management practices for common invasive plants in home gardens and held several presentations throughout the region. The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County developed additional training on native alternatives to invasive ornamental plants as well as other educational materials.
Partner Invasives Removals
LHPRISM partners have teamed with the Trail Conference’s Invasives Strike Force Conservation Corps Crew to manage invasives throughout our region.
- We’ve seen success in controlling hardy kiwi and its relative, silver vine, in Westchester County.
- To prevent the spread of mile-a-minute into northern areas of New York, which have not yet seen this invasive, our ISF Crew worked with Trillium ISM and Scenic Hudson in Esopus, N.Y., focusing on creating a suppression scenario by cutting into the population from the edges to contain it.
- The ISF Crew also worked with Trillium ISM, New York City DEP and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County to monitor and control all giant hogweed—a federally listed noxious plan—in the region.
- The New York Botanical Garden, in collaboration with the Bronx River Parkway Reservation Conservancy, conducted a survey of the Bronx River in Westchester to determine the extent of the incised fumewort infestation, first detected in the river in 2005.
- Several partners also worked with the ISF Crew on their preserves to conduct general invasives removals and hold volunteer events. These partners include: Westchester Land Trust, Friends of Old Croton Aqueduct, Teatown Lake Reservation, The Invasives Project - Pound Ridge, and Mianus River Gorge.