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For Release: Thursday, June 1, 2017

Statewide Invasive Species Awareness Week to Be Held July 9-15

DEC Encourages New York Partner Organizations to Host Events for the Week

Event Submissions Accepted through June 26

New York's fourth annual Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) will be celebrated July 9-15, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. The annual educational campaign aims to educate New Yorkers about the negative impacts invasive species can have on our environment, economy, and health and empower residents to take action to stop the spread of these destructive pests. DEC is encouraging organizations to partner in hosting an event as part of New York's ISAW.

"Preventing the spread of invasive species is the most effective way to fight and address the damage these species can cause to our natural resources," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Invasive Species Awareness Week is a great opportunity to highlight some of the environmental and economic threats these species can pose and raises awareness of the many ways that all New Yorkers can help protect against unwelcome species in their communities."

During ISAW, the eight Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMs), DEC, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and other state and local partners will host events to teach citizens how to identify, survey, manage, and map invasive species. Through these events, participants will gain the skills to participate in early detection and rapid response efforts in the places where they live, work, and play.

Natural resource managers depend on the public's help now more than ever in combatting invasive species in New York. Although there has been significant strides toward controlling populations of giant hogweed, purple loosestrife, and other invaders, the eyes on the ground to detect new infestations as early as possible are essential.

The invasive fungus that causes oak wilt can spread rapidly and kill some types of oak trees in as little as two to six weeks. The aggressive submerged aquatic plant Hydrilla was recently found at a second Finger Lakes location, near the northeastern shore of Cayuga Lake. Promoting awareness of how everyday activities (pruning trees, recreational boating, gardening, camping, etc.) can facilitate the spread of invasive species will help to curb the problem.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Communities across the State have been instrumental in helping the State keep a watchful eye out for invasive species of all kinds. With their assistance, we have been able to better monitor and, as a result, slow the spread of these invasives that can damage our trees, plants and aquatic habitats, and negatively impact our State's economy. We encourage citizens to join us during Invasive Species Awareness Week and take part in some of the activities planned to continue to educate New Yorkers on how to spot, identify and protect against these non-native species."
Last year, partner organizations hosted more than 120 ISAW events in New York State and engaged more than 2,500 participants. These events included guided hikes and paddling events, documentary film screenings, presentations and community discussions, invasive species control projects, and others. If your organization is interested in hosting an ISAW event this summer, visit DEC's Invasive Species Awareness Week web page to learn everything that you'll need to know to plan a successful, well-attended event. PRISM coordinators will be accepting event submissions through June 26.

One example of an ISAW event is the iMap Invasives team teaming up with DEC and Finger Lakes Institute staff to host the second annual statewide Water Chestnut Chasers Challenge. The aim of the friendly competition is to fill in data gaps in the state's invasive species database while teaching citizens how to survey for and report one of our most recognizable aquatic invasive species. If infestations are found early enough, there's a good chance that a well-organized crew of volunteers can keep their favorite swimming holes and boat launches clear of this invasive floating plant. Prizes will be awarded to the individual who reports the greatest number of observations (including negative observations, i.e. no water chestnut) as well as the PRISM region with the most observations reported during the search window of July 5 through July 19. To learn more about how to participate and sign up for an informational webinar, visit the New York iMapInvasives (link leaves DEC) website.

As event planning gets underway, the statewide ISAW calendar (link leaves DEC) will be kept current with activities across the state.

Press Contacts

NY Invasive Species Council, Co-Chairs:

  • NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Press Office, Lori Severino, Lori.Severino@dec.ny.gov, (518) 402-8000
  • NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Press Office, Jola Szubielski, Jola.Szubielski@agriculture.ny.gov, (518) 457-0752

NY Invasive Species Advisory Committee, Chair:

  • Meredith Taylor, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Invasive Species Biologist, metaylor@dep.nyc.gov, (845) 340-7856

2017 ISAW Planning Committee Chair:

  • Megan Phillips, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Megan.Phillips@dec.ny.gov, (518) 402-8871

Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), Coordinators:

  • Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, Brenden Quirion, bquirion@tnc.org, (518) 576-2082
  • Capital Mohawk, Laurel Gailor, lrg6@cornell.edu, (518) 885-8995
  • Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership, John Thompson, jthompson@catskillcenter.org, (845) 586-2611
  • Finger Lakes, Hilary Mosher, mosher@hws.edu, (315) 781-4385
  • Long Island Invasive Species Management Area, Polly Weigand, liismaprism@gmail.com (631) 563-0321
  • Lower Hudson, Linda Rohleder, lrohleder@nynjtc.org, (201) 512-9348
  • St. Lawrence and Eastern Lake Ontario, Robert Williams, rwilliams@tnc.org, (315) 387-3600
  • Western New York, Andrea Locke, lockeas@buffalostate.edu, (716) 878-4708
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