9950353185_674ce9d8cd_cPicture of the Japanese Knotweed plant (Polygonum cuspidatum).

9950452543_ab054d96ed_cPhoto shows specialized equipment known as a “stem injector” being used.

(Nov. 1, 2013) Partners of the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (SLELO-PRISM) have completed a tremendous season managing harmful invasive species. The SLELO-PRISM is one of eight partnerships across New York State, encompassing the counties of St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Oneida, Lewis and Oswego whose mission is to “protect the ecological integrity of the eastern Lake Ontario Basin and Northern New York’s unique natural areas from the threat of invasive species.

Invasive species of plants, animals, insects and microorganisms (both aquatic and terrestrial) are among the most serious threats to native habitats, ecosystems and even public health. Invasive species almost always out-compete, damage or displace rare or endangered native species resulting in serious disruptions of ecosystem processes. They interfere with many types of outdoor recreation. They reduce crop yields and interfere with agricultural operations.

Along public roads and highways, invasive plants restrict visibility and create roadside hazards. Invasive insects and diseases kill trees in forested areas as well as along community streets. Some invasive species like Giant Hogweed, have a direct negative impact on public health. The economic impact of invasive species in the United States alone has been estimated in the billions of dollars.

In 2013 partners of the SLELO-PRISM completed a tremendous amount of work designed to reduce the threat and impacts posed by invasive species. This work also serves to protect rare and endangered species of flora and fauna found within the five county PRISM region.  Highlights from 2013 include: Significantly reducing the human health threats posed by Giant Hogweed by removing plants from 61 sites.

Assisting in the restoration of over 230 acres of freshwater resources by controlling invasive Water Chestnut plants and supporting the boat launch steward program. Restoring 570.0 acres of globally rare Alvar habitat in the eastern Lake Ontario coastline from the invasive plant known as Swallow-wort. In addition, PRISM partners completed over 18 public education and outreach events throughout the five county region engaging over 1400 individuals.

PRISM partners also engaged in a collaborative effort along the Salmon River in Pulaski, NY. Known as the Salmon River Initiative, this project focusses on the suppression of Japanese Knotweed along the Salmon River Corridor. The increasing presence of Japanese knotweed, an aggressive invasive riparian plant, has the potential to negatively impact the economic and ecological values of the Salmon River and Salmon River Estuary. Dense stands along the upstream portion of the river interfere with angler access and out-compete more beneficial native plants.

Populations of knotweed within the estuary could alter the diversity of marsh plants which intern may have direct impacts on shorebirds and other organisms that rely on the unique composition of riparian plant communities for shelter, nesting materials and food.

In 2013 (year one of a three year project) 86 percent or 5.49 acres of the total knotweed population along the Salmon River was treated by strategically applying an appropriate over-the-counter herbicide specifically formulated for safe use near aquatic areas and using specialized techniques that protect non-target plants. Project scientists plan to continue treatment for two more years.

According to Program Coordinator Rob Williams, “it is the energy and collaborative nature of our partners along with support from New York State Invasive Species Council and The Nature Conservancy that makes this work possible – our partners are motivated, engaged and are the ones that             truly make the difference.”

For more information about invasive species, the Salmon River Initiative or the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management, please visit their website at www.sleloinvasives.org

By martha

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