By Anne Gilmore (Rachel Carson NWR)
At Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (RCNWR), wildlife comes first. One of the biggest threats to native wildlife, at RCNWR and abound, are invasive plant species. From devising non-chemical removal methods for the phragmites that’s choking up salt marshes, to releasing Galerucella beetles to reduce purple loosestrife, invasive species eradication takes a significant amount of man-hours, materials, and money. Knowing this, RCNWR is heeding to the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and recruiting help from all over with nipping these invasions in the bud.
Early detection is crucial to invasive species management. With many invasive species right at Maine’s border, RCNWR is bulking up on its efforts to catch plants that are already a problem for our neighbors. Simply “by increasing resources to detect invasive species, [we] may increase [our] chances of finding a species at a smaller population level, lessening the extent of damages and making subsequent control potentially less expensive and more effective.” (1)There are a number of plants on RCNWR’s radar. The top six of concern include perennial pepperweed, Japanese stilt grass, porcelain berry, yellow flag iris, kudzu and Mile-a-Minute.
RCNWR cannot catch early invasions alone. Rather, our most valuable resources are the citizens who already spend time in the habits of invasives. For example, kayakers can be a vital invasives watchdog by patrolling waterways for plants whose seed travel downstream, perennial pepperweed being an example. Gardeners are needed to watch their own yards and to educate others about buying native alternatives to popular invasive cultivars. The Department of Transportation and Public Works Department employees are regularly working around a favorite spot for invasives: roadsides. The uniqueness of their work place is invaluable in early detection.
Ultimately, it takes minimal effort to educate and catch invasions early-on relative to the time, money, and materials it takes to eradicate an infestation of invasive species. With so much land to look after and so many vectors of travel, it is necessary to educate people with a range of vocations and avocations to keep an eye out. Join us in detecting, reporting, and removing early invaders.
1. Mehta, S.V.; Haight, R.G.; Homans, F.R.; Polasky, S; Venette, R.C. 2007. Optimal detection and control strategies for invasive species management. Ecological Economics. 237-245.