Zeroing in on Invasives: How the Invasives Strike Force Targets Specific Projects
The Trail Conference's Invasives Strike Force strategically combats invasive species in our region with the help of our volunteers and partners.
Have you ever walked down the trail and noticed a fallen tree covered in vines? Have you walked through the woods only to see a thick cover of thorny plants under the trees? Nearly anywhere you walk in lower New York or northern New Jersey, you can find invasive species like Japanese barberry and Oriental bittersweet affecting our landscape. At the Trail Conference, we manage the response to invasive species throughout our whole region. To provide the most protection to the local biodiversity in our natural areas, The Trail Conference's Invasives Strike Force focus our efforts on priority projects.
Our work begins with our volunteer surveyors. Every year, nearly 250 surveyors devote 2,500 hours collectively to search for invasive plants along our trails, natural areas, and human-impacted lands. We use the data they collect to make distribution maps of invasives in our region. These maps tells us two important things: where invasive plants are, and where they aren’t. Both of these pieces are critical to our next step.
At the start of each year, land managers and land stewards submit requests for invasive plant removal. These requests can range from halfday volunteer projects to week-long projects that require specialized equipment and trained professionals. To see if a project works toward our larger goal of managing the spread of invasive species, we ask the following questions:
What species is it?
The New York State Invasive Species Council assesses the risk of species becoming invasive in New York and maintains a list of the riskiest invaders. We use this list, along with reports from experts, to determine our priority species for management.
Does the project protect critical habitat?
Throughout our region, we have rare and endangered plant communities. If invasive plants threaten these populations, we act to protect them.
Is the project located along a travel corridor?
By tackling plants along these paths, roads, rivers, and other places where they can spread easily, we can prevent their advancement to other areas.
Will the site be restored?
Land managers should try to replant the area with native plants. This helps prevent the invasive plants from coming back.
What resources can the Trail Conference provide?
While we contract out certain projects on private land, most of our removal is done by our Invasives Strike Force group of 100 dedicated volunteers and our four-person seasonal Conservation Corps crew. Over the last three years, our crew and 300 volunteers have removed over 208,000 invasive plants from our trails and natural areas.