Invasive species – be it plants, animals or other organisms – are a widespread problem that adversely affect ecosystems all around the world. The Finger Lakes region, too, isn’t an exception, with intruders such as zebra mussels, purple loosestrife and dozens of other species often making local headlines. The introduction of these non-native species may cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.
But, thanks to funding from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the HWS Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) is reinforcing efforts to address the problem of invasive species in the Finger Lakes through the Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM).
Initially proposed by the State’s Invasive Species Taskforce in 2005, PRISM is a collaborative effort among state agencies, non-governmental organizations, resources managers, industry and engaged citizens to address the threat of invasive species.
The FLI’s collaborative networks, research experience, educational programming, regional positioning, and administrative capacity in combination with its active involvement in the development and history of the FL-PRISM were key in being selected as the host organization, says Lisa Cleckner, director of the FLI.
At Hobart and William Smith, Hilary Mosher is leading the efforts as the new coordinator for the Finger Lakes-PRISM, a program housed under FLI. Through FL-PRISM, Mosher will manage invasive species efforts across New York’s Finger Lakes region, develop early detection programs, employ response efforts, offer education programming and outreach, work with volunteers and implement eradication projects.
“The mission of the FL-PRISM is to reduce the introduction, spread, and impact of invasive species within the Finger Lakes PRISM region through coordinated education, detection, prevention and control measures,” Mosher says.
In her role, Mosher is working with a wide-range of stakeholders to manage invasive species efforts on behalf of 17 New York State counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Tompkins, Tioga, Steuben, Wayne and Yates. With eight PRISM programs across New York, each of the respective partnerships is vital to the integrated approach that’s being used in the management of invasive species.
Efforts carried out through PRISM can directly address the negative impact of invasive species. Left unmanaged, the invasive species can threaten ecosystems, managed land, and water resources. In addition, invasive species also can prey on native species, alter environments and be a conduit for disease, while negatively impacting economies and the environment.
This June through the FL-PRISM program, Mosher hosted training sessions for iMapInvasives, an online GIS data management tool that’s being used to track invasive species in order to make determinations in protecting resources from impending threats. Those sessions involved various stakeholders, including researchers and scientists, as well as other engaged citizens. Another session will be held at Ganondagan, a historical site for the Seneca people in Victor, N.Y.
In addition, Mosher along with HWS student researchers, recently visited Cornell Plantations, a botanical garden in Ithaca, where they surveyed swallow-wort, an invasive species. Other surveying efforts have taken place at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, and an educational outreach program will take place at Hamlin Beach State Park with World of Inquiry School No. 58 from Rochester.
FLI also continues a Watercraft Steward Program in 2014, its third year. Through this effort, watercraft stewards educate and offer outreach programs that inform the public about best practices for preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. The program calls for public boat launch users to inspect and cleanboats and equipment when entering and exiting the waterways.
Upcoming FL-PRISM Events Throughout July.
FL_PRISM will be hosting and promoting several activities as part of New York’s Invasive Species Awareness Week, a series of public outreach events intended to provide information about various invasive species affecting the region and state. The events are as follows:
Event: 2014 Hydrilla Public Update Meeting; Tuesday July 8, 2014, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.; Large Pavilion at Stewart Park, Ithaca, N.Y.
Event Description: The Hydrilla Task Force of the Cayuga Lake Watershed will be holding a free public meeting to update the community on the ongoing Cayuga Inlet Hydrilla Project. The meeting will focus on providing updates on project progress during the 2013 season, as well as details about the upcoming campaign against this invasive aquatic weed in 2014. Information and updates will be provided and questions will be answered. The Task Force looks forward to providing the community with important project updates while helping to answer questions and address concerns.
Event: Invasive Species Identified! Exploring Ways Teachers and Students Can Become Invasive Species Citizen Scientist; Monday, July 7 to Wednesday, July 9, 2014; Finger Lakes Institute and Muller Field Station at Finger Lakes Community College.
Event Description: Join the Finger Lakes Institute and Finger Lakes PRISM in a hands-on exploration of terrestrial and aquatic invasive species during a three-day teacher training. Teachers will learn about the history of invasives in the Finger Lakes region and their effects on local ecosystems, regional economics and human health. Hands-on training will be provided for field identification of common terrestrial and aquatic invasives, as well as use of the online, GIS-based citizen science mapping tool called iMapInvasives. Field identification and mapping techniques will be used to create classroom curriculum and citizen science projects models. The training is free and open to elementary through high school science educators in the Finger Lakes region. The workshop will be held at the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva on Monday, July 7, and at Finger Lakes Community College Muller Field Station in Honeoye, N.Y., on Tuesday, July 8, and Wednesday, July 9. Registration is limited to 15 participants.
Event: Water Chestnut Pull; Wednesday, July 9; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Montezuma Audubon Center, 2295 State Route 89, Savannah, N.Y.
Event Description: The Montezuma Alliance for the Restoration of Species and Habitats (MARSH) is part of a larger effort to restore, protect and enhance wildlife habitat on nearly 50,000 acres of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. Volunteers will hand pull Water Chestnut from the Seneca River in canoes/kayaks. Work side by side with NYSDEC Wildlife Biologists and other like-minded individuals to make Montezuma a better place for birds and other wildlife. Bring your own canoe/kayak or borrow one from us. Lunch will be provided. Paddling experience preferred. Space is limited and registration is required. Call (315) 365-3588 or email email@example.com.
Event: Ithaca Invasives Invite Killing – swallow-wort and garlic mustard; Wednesday, July 9 at 6 p.m.; East Ithaca Nature Preserve, Ithaca, N.Y. Meet at the Shirley Raffensburger Gazebo along the East Ithaca Recreation Way (Pew Trail) near the trail entrance from the corner of Park Lane and Joanne Drive.
Event Description: The Town of Ithaca Conservation Board would like to invite the public to join them at the East Ithaca Nature Preserve to learn about the need for appropriate pest management and to help pull some swallow-wort and garlic mustard. Learn how to identify these plants and what to do about them. We will fill as many garbage bags with these invasives as we can. Help us keep these two vigorous seed sources from spreading in the Preserve. Hand tools and garbage bags will be provided. Participants should bring gardening gloves and insect repellant. For more information, contact the Town of Ithaca Planning Department: (607) 273-1747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.